The Food Network has fired celebrity chef Paula Deen.
So too Target. So too Wal-Mart. So too Random House.
Ms. Deen’s problem?
In a deposition for a lawsuit Deen was asked by an attorney if she has ever used the N-word. To which Deen replied: "Yes, of course." Adding: "It's been a very long time."
Within a media cycle The Food Network had issued this crisp comment about its celebrity chef whose fame came from her extensive use of butter:
Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month.
Two abject, videotaped apologies followed from a contrite Ms. Deen, and now a tearful appearance on NBC’s The Today Show. The Food Network was unmoved.
Shortly thereafter Target and Walmart fired Deen as well. Now comes the news that Deen’s publisher, Ballantine, a subsidiary of Random House, has dumped Deen as well.
But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
The Food Network, Target , Walmart and Random House all have one giant-sized double-standard when it comes to the use of the “N-word.”
Let’s start with the Food Network.
The Food Network, owned and run by Scripps Networks Interactive, is more than the home to Paula Deen. It is the network that features a show called Home Made In America With Sunny Anderson. The show, which “scours the country in search of the best home cooks and discovers secrets and stories about the recipes that have made them famous, ” features its African-American host Ms. Anderson -- a former hip-hop radio host and Food and Lifestyle editor at Hip Hop Weekly. To produce music for Home Made in America the Food Network turned to 9th Wonder, the hip-hop rapper, record executive, and producer whose real name is Patrick Douthit.
Just another day in the life of American culture at the intersection of food, music, and business.
Until, that is, Ms. Deen was quite publicly dispatched.
Alas, it seems that 9th Wonder has exactly the same problem as Paula Deen -- with one very considerable difference.
It hasn’t been “a very long time” since 9th Wonder used the “N-word.” In fact, 9th Wonder is famous precisely because he raps and produces songs that routinely employ the “N-word.” The “N-word” is to 9th wonder what butter is to Paula Deen.
Here’s a sampling of the lyrics from songs produced by 9th Wonder, with appropriate cleansing for a family publication:
S**t don’t you snitch if you get caught
You already know if you do then you dead
And now n**gas in the hood trading cush for your baby mama throat
But suck it up b**ch deal with it huh
Ain't no glitch in my computer
Bangin beats for the gudda paper planes no hookahs yeah
I'm the driver and the shooter and the taxi
I dare you motherf***ers get at me
Seen a lot of n**gas knocked out over shoe strings….
Then there’s this one, a riff on the old Tom Hanks movie Big:
Ah I'm a make it big
Ah I'm a make it big
I said I wan'na make it big
I'm a make it big
Like Tom Hanks n**ga I'm a make it big
Don’t forget the song Threat which 9th Wonder produced for his hip-hop friend Jay-Z. The lyrics, sung by Jay-Z, including this verse:
Yeah, I done told you n**gaz
9 or 10 times stop f***n with me
I done told you n**gaz
9 albums, stop f***n with me
I done told you n**gaz
The 9 on me, stop f***n with me
You n**gaz must got 9 lives
Recall that Jay-Z is famously a major-league supporter of President Obama, and along with wife Beyoncé has been entertained at the White House . The two hosted the President at Jay-Z’s night club for a $40,000 a ticket fundraiser during the 2012 presidential campaign. Ms. Anderson, for whose show 9th Wonder was hired, counts herself a Jay-Z fan, writing up a Philadelphia Jay-Z concert and adding in tales of Philadelphia cheesesteaks.
9th Wonder has also been hired by Duke University in his native North Carolina, where the hip-hop producer was to teach a class called “Sampling Soul.” He has been chosen by the Chancellor of North Carolina Central University to be the “Artist in Residence.” And don’t forget that fellowship at -- yes -- Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute.
Then there’s Target, the suddenly self-righteous department store chain that fired Ms. Deen while selling the music of -- 9th Wonder. Specifically hawking five 9th Wonder CD’s, which Target tactfully warns of containing “Explicit Lyrics.”
Walmart? That’s right, Walmart is big on 9th Wonder as well, selling his CD The Final Adventure. And yes, right off the bat there’s a track that begins:
Long live the Kane back, f**k cocaine rap
Twenty years later, n**gas stuck in the same trap
And Random House? You guessed it. The publishing company has published the aforementioned Jay-Z, he who banded together with 9th Wonder to rap the N-word. The book is called Decoded and in laughably hypocritical style Random House rhapsodizes about the artist who makes his money using the N-word:
Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.
Thus speaks Random House about one of its N-word spewing authors.
No one is defending Paula Deen for what she said. Said 30 years ago at that. Ms. Deen herself has been abject in her apology. Make that tearful apologies plural.
But the difference between the treatment of Paula Deen and 9th Wonder by the Food Network, Target, Walmart and Random House is stark.
Let’s speak it plainly: what the Food Network, Target, Walmart and Random House are doing is monetizing racism. Making money off the N-word.
They are not Paula Deen, whose remark was in private and long before she was a public figure. They are not Rush Limbaugh, whose head was demanded for making a political point when he used the s-word about Sandra Fluke. They aren’t even Alec Baldwin, who is currently in hot water for using anti-gay slurs on his Twitter account. None of those people make their professional careers out of using the words that got them in trouble.
Do the Food Network, Target, Wal-Mart and Random House have a constitutional right to do what they are doing?
Importantly -- yes they do. They are -- and should be -- fully protected by the First Amendment.
That, however, is not the question raised by the full-blown self-righteous and wildly hypocritical snit thrown by the Food Network, Target, Walmart and Random House over something Paula Deen said 30 years ago in private.
The question arises: in a society where people have died to move the country toward the color-blind future envisioned by the Declaration of Independence (“all Men are created equal”), isn’t it time to stop giving a pass to those monetizing the N-word? And no, the answer cannot be that the offenders in question are black and somehow have some sort of racial “right” to spew racial garbage for profit. If nothing else, the latter idea is typical of the patronizing liberal thought that aims now as it always has to keep black Americans on the liberal plantation. It is the 21st century equivalent of all those long-ago slave owners insisting that blacks could not possibly be their equal because they were “childlike” and, to retrieve another phrase from the day, “happy darkies” who just loved the paternalistic reality of being owned.
Paula Deen made a mistake. Decades ago. She has profusely apologized. Never in her professional career on television or in her books has there been a hint of racism shown. Indeed, there are reports aplenty Ms. Deen was an Obama-supporter, and former President Jimmy Carter has come to her defense.
Yet the N-Word spewing 9th Wonder is hired by the Food Network and marketed by Target and Walmart (both of the latter selling the music of other N-word rapping hip hop “artists” as well) and Jay-Z is published by Random House because they are famous for deliberately using the “N-word” (not to mention the “F-word” and the “B-word”) like Ms. Deen uses butter. To earn a living.
The hypocrisy here is so thick you would need a chainsaw to cut it.
The world is in a curious place indeed when those who use the “N-word” to make fabulous livings become celebrated presidential pals, a Random House author, academics at prestigious universities, recording moguls and, in the case of 9th Wonder, the producer of music for the Food Network , music that is eagerly touted and sold by Target and Walmart -- while a contrite Paula Deen gets the door.
There isn’t enough butter in the world to sauté the hypocrisy of the Food Network, Target, Wal-Mart and Random House.
And a few others besides.
That means you, Mr. President.
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