Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Deen’s List

Andrea Freedman

 

Recently, much has been said about celebrity cooking guru Paula Deen regarding a racial slur that she admitted to making in the past.

It is sad when a person has a hand in his or her own demise such as Paula Deen has and while I in no way condone her admitted use of the “N” word in the past, even if she had used a slang word toward Jews and being Jewish I decided as a result not to buy her products in the future, I would still have a hard time gunning for her whole life to be ruined. (And yes, I did hear of the rumoured interview on Dave Garver’s Atlantic Radio Show, which has proven to be a fake.)

There is no circumstance where it is acceptable to be racist or discriminate against someone in or out of the workplace. It may be true that Paula Deen needs to improve working conditions for her employees and ensure them an environment where they will not face prejudices or be degraded for any reason but being dropped by the Food Network as well as many of her other major endorsements may very well leave some of her employees, through no fault of their own, without jobs when all is said and done.

What would have been more effective, rather than dragging her name through the mud, would have been for whatever poor working conditions existed under Paula Deen’s employment to have been immediately rectified, with an explanation or apology by Paula Deen, assuring her staff and her fans that she respected them and had taken the necessary steps to prove it.

In one fell swoop, Paula Deen’s empire has systematically crumbled before her eyes as well as those of the public. Ms. Deen uttered that hateful word after a frightening and traumatic experience. It is as if the context of when and why she said what she did matters not in the least and is not even being taken into consideration. I think it would serve some of us well to stop and think about how we would react if someone mugged one of us at gun point, such as happened to Paula Deen preceding her unfortunate choice of words.

Granted she should have expressed her anger differently but I do not believe her entire life’s work should be destroyed because of it. Not to mention the fact that this is being dredged up years after it happened, largely in the name of spite and revenge.

Everybody makes mistakes and as Paula Deen herself said in a televised interview, “If there is one person out there who has never said anything they wish they could take back … I would like to meet you.” As much as hearing a racial slur such as the one Paula Deen admitted to having said makes my skin crawl, I found myself applauding her words during the interview nonetheless.

Although her tears most likely had more to do with her horror at the shocking backlash that she has faced and continues to face and less to do with her remorse for having spoken that terrible word in the first place, I do not think most people – unless there are any among us I don’t know about who are perfect – could in all good consciousness challenge her statement.

Yes, being in the public eye, especially these days, means that one is under constant scrutiny. Celebrities have a responsibility to set good examples for the wide audiences they reach, however, they are still human beings and are just as capable of doing something wrong as anyone else is.

As for some of the companies that have hastily severed ties with Paula Deen especially following suit immediately after one of their major competitors did the same, if you ask me there is a bit of bandwagon jumping going on here.

Furthermore, I actually know people personally who have met Ms. Deen on more than one occasion and will attest to what a kind lady she is and that she is not in fact a racist. One false move can unravel all the other good a person has done or said for the rest of his or her life.

It is always sad to see someone fall from grace. They say time heels all wounds. But if that is true, what purpose will dismantling this woman’s entire empire serve? Although her angry words – or shall I say word – will never be forgotten, she may be forgiven in time. That is all well and good but once everyone else has moved on, what then, besides an ease of her conscience, will Paula Deen be left with?

I am in no way trying to minimize what a horrible and hurtful word Ms. Deen used when she said the “N” word. She made a mistake and in doing so revealed a serious character flaw that has disappointed many of her fans and peers.

Nevertheless, I think if people are going to stand in judgement of this woman to such a degree as has been displayed since this incident came to light and began to spin out of control, then they had better be sure to walk the straight and narrow every single day and never speak a single word that anyone would consider racist, sexist, or politically incorrect, or otherwise be prepared to suffer irreparable consequences.

Paula Deen is, like the rest of us, not perfect, but she did not commit murder. She did not rob anyone of his or her life and it is unfair and I dare say overdone that her life should, in a very real sense, be taken from her.♠

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

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Am I Getting Paid? Why Do You Ask?

Andrea Freedman

I notice a recurring theme whenever I talk about something new I wrote that is about to be published. Inevitably, before I am barely able to finish my sentence I am asked “Are you getting paid for that?” and I immediately feel as deflated as if I were a pin-pricked balloon.

First of all, I do not really see why it is anyone’s business if I am getting paid or not. I am not asking anyone else to pay my bills.

I don’t know what is worse. When I talk excitedly about my new writing career and am met with responses such as “I meant what are your plans professionally?”

I try to explain that this is what I am doing (while at the same time holding back the words ‘you idiot’ with great difficulty).

Still, perhaps that is better after all than, for example:

“Yeah, but you didn’t get paid for that.”

“They’re not paying you are they?”

“But you’re not making money for any of this.”

“How are you going to turn this into something you can make money doing?”

These comments, often from people that are in fact getting paid, but for doing something they hate, while I am trying to do something that is really important to me, have begun to get on my nerves.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to be paid for each and every one of my published pieces of writing but what some people just cannot seem to grasp is that if I were to take some of their unsolicited suggestions about what I should try to do to earn a living to heart, all of a sudden I would be right back to where I started – stuck going into an office every day, anxiously wondering when or how I would find the time to pursue my true passion.

As I am sure I do not have to tell all the other writers out there, sometimes exposure is just as, if not more important than getting paid in dollars and the satisfaction gained each time a writer publishes something is worth more than money can buy; it is important to remember that so that our achievements are never minimized.

I have set out on an entirely new career path. As much as I paid my dues in the work force for so many years beforehand, I am once again finding myself at a point in my life where I am getting my foot in the door.

Since I started to write full-time the learning experience I have had and am continuing to gain has great value in and of itself and will hopefully lead me to more paid writing jobs down the road but if I do not take these necessary steps I may never get where I ultimately want to go.

Yes I dream of having my novel published, going on book tours and becoming a best-selling, financially-comfortable author; in the meantime, I cannot let lack of monetary compensation or, for that matter, any negative comments I might endure from others discourage me.

Obviously I hope to make more money doing one of the things I love to do most and when I finally do sell one of my articles or stories in exchange for any payment worth celebrating – which I have no doubt will eventually happen – I plan to frame a copy of my cheque or at least include it proudly in my portfolio.

Writing is not a hobby for me and it is something I hope to continue to be able to devote my full concentration to for as long as possible. I wish everyone would stop asking me about whether or not I am getting paid every time I have something published and just wait for me to let them know when I get my lucky break.

I think next time someone asks me if I am getting paid for writing, rather than let it cast a negative shadow over my enthusiasm for being published in the first place, I will simply direct them to this blog post and continue on my way. And no, in case anyone is wondering, I did not get paid to write this.♠

Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman