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Paula Deen and American culture of racism

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 06-29-2013 | in Ethics, Race, Human Relations, Critical Thinking,

Paula Deen is a southern food cooking specialist, writer, and host of "Paula's Home Cooking" on the Food Network. She admitted in a legal deposition using the N-racist-slur long ago. In addition, she admitted allowing racial slurs in the workplace and quoting workers remarks with N-racial-slur in them. The Food Network and other business declined to renew her contract. Now Deen and many defenders protest the strong response against her remarks is unfair. However, she reaped the product of her racist seeding.

A main defense for Deen, born in Georgia in 1947, is that she is the product of the racist social environment of the South characterized by ideas of white supremacy and racial oppression. In other words, she entered adulthood unaware of higher moral standards for conduct. I reject this self-serving argument. The American States approved the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776 about 200 years before her adulthood. It set out principles of human equality and rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that were self-evident to reasoning and moral people. Deen could have embraced those reasoning and moral principles.

True, from goals of greediness, most founders did support racism and savagery of slavery in the Constitution. However, the United States fought a Civil War to preserve the Union. Afterward, it approved the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 that outlawed slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 secured equality of treatment for all natural-born and naturalized citizens without consideration of race. The rebelling states agreed to abide by the new constitutional amendments as a condition of rejoining the Union. Many of them accepted the benefits of reinstated American citizenship and then reneged on their oath to treat all citizens equally under the law.

Many people in the South wanted vengeance for their Civil War defeat. They lacked the courage and means to seek it against the American government leaders or American Army that had weaponry to fight back. Instead, they subjected Freed Americans to a culture of racism and terrorism as surrogates for Northern leaders. This harsh culture of racial oppression included language of belittlement that attacked the emotions and self-image of Freed Americans. This culture of revenge compelled Freed Americans to act submissively in the presence of a white-race-labeled person or face physical attack, arrest, mutilation, or death for noncompliance.

Only a contradiction of logic supported this surrogacy for culpability. "Without weapons, political power, or economic power, Freed Americans of an inferior black race caused the humiliating defeat of superior white-race Southerners." Therefore, to gain satisfaction from taking vengeance on the surrogates, those Southern rebels had to ignore the inconsistency of their assertions and convince themselves of Freed Americans' blameworthiness.

Self-deception requires people to give emotion control over reason. Southerners dispensed with reason and convinced themselves they were victims of Freed Americans' actions with the potential for more harm. They reacted with an 85-year reign of terror (about 1880 to 1965) on Freed Americans in the South inclusive of lynching, burning at the stake, maiming, dismemberment, castration, and other brutal methods of physical torture. "N-racial-slur" was the label for their victims and is the word that expresses this attitude of permissive cruelty and hatred.

Those are the ideas Deen and others evoke and support when they utter "N-racial-slur." However, she and her supporters trivialize the history of cruelty and inhumanity it symbolizes with the defense that she is the victim of political correctness and intolerance for an honest mistake of saying it. Deen's defenders also claim a double standard, because, "Black people call one another N-racial-slur all the time." They contend that society should not hold Deen accountable for past conduct, because she apologized for it.

Deen had a choice of moral standards. She chose to venerate a period in history of degenerate American racism and cruelty. I will not give Deen a pass for her conduct based on an apology, because I do not believe in apology. An apology is only an assertion of new values or conclusions and promise of different future conduct. No matter its sincerity, an apology does not change the effects of intentional bad conduct. An apology for accidental events of which the person had no discretion is meaningless.

Race is a social construction in America and the foundation for racism. Nevertheless, the emotional and financial costs to the targets of racism are real. "N-racial-slur" is a verbal assault of belittlement that causes emotional distress in people susceptible to it. Some people display confusion or emotional damage from assault of racism by referring to themselves as N-racial-slur in the degrading language of their tormentors. I liken them to people that engage in self-injury like cutting themselves. It is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger, and frustration. Nevertheless, no rational or moral person presumes an equal right to inflict more harm on someone that engages in self-injury.

I never heard of Paula Deen before this accusation of racism confirmed by her remarks and conduct. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see public condemnation of this conduct as an effective way to end expressions of bigotry. Laws alone will not effect change so long as most Americans support bigotry by their silence.

I do not suggest that racism is common only in the South or that only the people in the defeated Southern states were responsible for the reign of violence and intimidation of Freed Americans. I suspect America's national leaders permitted it to happen as a catharsis for post-Civil War tensions among white-race-labeled Americans. They had to recognize the culture of savagery in their midst. After all, during the 85 years of post-Civil War cruelty, the United States defeated Nazi Germany in World War II to uncover and prevent Nazi Holocaust of Jews and other Europeans the Nazi classified as not Aryans. Nevertheless, United States' leaders allowed prolonged acts of racial cruelty and death to continue in the South with impunity for the torturers, murderers, and assaulters for at least another two decades after fighting a war to stop similar conduct in Europe.

Bullying by the Superintendent

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 02-19-2013 | in Government, Ethics, Vallejo, Human Relations, Critical Thinking,

Vallejo City Unified School District has problems with bullying on its campuses. Parents protested about it to Superintendent Bishop and the School Board without positive results. I don't expect much positive action from Bishop, because she is part of the problem.

Bishop targeted me for bullying over a trivial dispute about my August 22, 2011 public record request to see records of the Districts professional training for teachers and staff how to deal with students of color. Alana Shackelford directed me to the District’s website that had an outline and schedules of the training, but no records of completed training sessions. By email and telephone Shackelford insisted the District did not have any other records of the training.

On the telephone, Bishop also claimed the District did not have other records of training. I said it was unlikely the school district would not keep records of this type training. Then, she reversed herself and admitted the District had videotapes of the training and she was making CD production copies of it. She asked me to delay reviewing the videotapes until she completed this task. I agreed to the extension although I was skeptical about the reliability of the verbal agreement with a person that just lied to me.

Twenty days passed and the District had not delivered the videotapes for my review. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires the superintendent to write a request for extending the time to deliver records for a period of no more than 14 days. I petitioned Bishop to comply with the CPRA immediately. After that, the District did not communicate information to me about my requests or other matters from its Vallejo headquarters as required by law. DWK law firm in San Francisco communicated information to me about my record requests that it alleged was from the District.

DWK declared in an October 4, 2011letter that it represented the District regarding my August 22, 2011 records request. A DWK attorney asserted the District completed its duty regarding my record request when Shackelford directed me to the information on the website. He claimed the District did not have other records of the training. He warned that if I filed a lawsuit, the District would set out his version of the facts before the Court and probably it would find I filed a frivolous lawsuit. Therefore, Bishop was denying the existence of videotape records that she admitted having three weeks earlier.

I asked what legal authority permitted DWK to represent the District in this administrative matter. DWK responded, “With regard to your concerns regarding our representation of the District, I can assure you that our office has been retained to represent the District with regard to your Public Record Act requests and that we are authorized by the District Board and Dr. Bishop to speak on the District’s behalf in this matter.” They made a false claim, because the School Board does not have authority to approve a local public records policy that provided slower and less access to records than the CPRA prescribed or approve policy only for my record requests.

I sent a request to the District, “I request to see the public records in Vallejo City Unified School District files of the contract or document designating or authorizing DWK law firm to act as Vallejo School District’s public records agent for making responses to public records requests submitted by Kenneth Brooks.”

DWK/Bishop claimed my record request was ambiguous and impossible to answer. I repeated my request in more detail and they made similar evasive responses. Finally, DWK wrote, “As previously advised, the ambiguity in your request is with regards to the authority granted to DWK. Your request could be interpreted to imply that the District has delegated its obligation to respond to your PRA requests to DWK. If that is your assumption, then, there are no documents responsive to your request because the District has not delegated that obligation.”

DWK/Bishop's response confirmed an important fact no matter they confused it with irrelevant conjecture. The School Board had not published a local public record policy authorizing DWK to represent or speak for the District regarding my public record requests as previously claimed by DWK.

DWK/Bishop created another deception about the videotapes of the training to suggest they recently discovered evidence the videotapes may exist. October 14, 2011, they wrote, “As for the video, the District is still working on obtaining whatever recording(s) it may have.” Also, “The videographer for the training has been out of town for 7-10 days and has not responded to the District’s inquiry as to what video exists.” So, two months after the training sessions and ten days after denying any records of it, they casually mention knowledge of a “videographer for the training” who now is on vacation. Their changed position reeks of deception.

Later, they reported the District finished compiling the videotape records onto a CD and I had to pay $234.16, to receive a copy of the CD, to view the CD, or to view the videotapes. They were holding my right to view the videotapes hostage to a ransom equal to the money Bishop spent compiling the videotape records on CDs for use by the District. The money claim was more bulling than concern for costs. Bishop was paying DWK $255.00 per hour for communicating with me about record requests although managing public records requests is a duty in Shackelford's job description.

I refused to pay the ransom and they dropped the payment requirement saying I could view the CD, the videotapes, or both by appointment. I made an appointment to view only the videotapes. Nevertheless, they had only a CD available for my review when I arrived at the Superintendent’s Office. Shackelford dismissed my questions about the missing videotapes, saying the attorney's would contact me. A few days later, DWK asserted the CD was an exact copy of the videotapes as if his assurance satisfied the District's duty to deliver the videotapes.

Bishop and her aides directed me to make an appointment specifically to see the videotapes and drive to District headquarters to review videotapes when they had no intention of delivering the tapes for my review. I cannot describe the mindset and standards of morality that conviced them this was acceptable professional conduct. This behavior, false statements, arrogation of School Board authority, and bullying disqualify them for the positions they hold in the District.

The School Board damages the integrity of the District's regulations and policy if it excuses this conduct by the superintendent and the District's general counsel while punishing comparable behavior by students. Therefore, the School Board must remove them from their positions with the District.


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