Paula Deen Discrimination Suit Settled – Racism, Not [Updated w/ Incredible Statement From Lisa Jackson]

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

paula-deen2_custom-0b30419dbbe077460d439775b6a773a8fdd8c906-s3-c85We’ve been following the discrimination suit brought by an employee of restaurants owned by  food maven Paula Deen. Lisa Jackson, who is Caucasian, claimed that she was subjected to a racially hostile work environment at Deen’s Uncle Bubba’s and The Lady and Sons restaurants. Jackson alleged that Paula Deen’s brother, Bubba,  routinely used derogatory racial epithets and sexually suggestive comments during her working hours as a manager at the restaurant. She also alleged that Deen acquiesced in the treatment and used racist comments herself.  A firestorm of negative publicity formed after Deen’s deposition transcript was leaked to the media in which she admitted using the term “ni**er” many years ago. Deem lost two national cable television shows and a host of endorsements following the story. Her two video apologies did little to assuage the sentiment that she was a racist.

Early this month, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. dismissed the key elements of Jackson’s racial discrimination claim ruling that, as a Caucasian, she could not claim that racial epithets directed against African-Americans resulted in discrimination against her — which does meet both the legal and common sense test.  Jackson did not rule that Jackson’s claims were true merely that IF they were true they still would not meet the test for racial discrimination against her.  Jackson’s other claims for sexual harassment and abusive treatment were still pending until the suit was settled yesterday.

According to the court filings, the parties agreed the dismissal would be “without any award of costs or fees to any party. ”  Meaning Ms. Jackson did not get any  reimbursement of attorney’s fees or litigation costs suggesting she may not have received much, if anything, by way of a financial settlement. Ms Deen released a statement saying  that she believes “in kindness and fairness for everyone. While this has been a difficult time for both my family and myself, I am pleased that the judge dismissed the race claims and I am looking forward to getting this behind me, now that the remaining claims have been resolved.”

Left unexplained are the claims by Jackson and her attorneys that scores of other African-American employees were subjected to the same discriminatory  treatment and who wouldn’t be subjected to the prohibition to sue imposed by the law against Jackson who is white. Nor have any complaints been filed by the Rainbow/PUSH  organization who say their investigation has “found evidence of systemic racial discrimination and harassment” by Deen and that “a family member consistently referred to a black cook as ‘my little monkey.'”

The net result is that a self-made celebrity chef has been brought low by unproven allegations of racial discrimination and subjected to vilification usually reserved for mass murderers simply based on comments she admitted she made decades ago. If there truly are people out there with bona fide claims of racial discrimination against Paula Deen they should bring them on and not hide in the shadows releasing dribbles and drabs of allegations through civil rights organization spokespersons.  Anonymous statements, lurid narratives, and innuendo are not proof and guilt rendered by character assassination is not law.

Paula Deen may be an unjustified victim of a media fueled racial divisiveness and unwarranted rage or she may be a closet racist with much to hide. Despite all this turmoil and public fall from grace we simply do not know. What we do know is that she –as any accused citizen — deserves  the benefit of the doubt until the allegations are proven. Sadly, this recent episode proves only that we have a long way to go in our national struggle with racism and  that trial by newspaper and leaked court documents to leverage money settlements will not aid us one iota in ridding the country of the scourge of racism.

In fact, rush to judgment situations such as this only gives hate groups ammunition as they always contend that progressives and the news media are habitually harping on racism claims that, in their view, do not now exist, unless, of course, it’s reverse racism.  The blame the left-wing media for hyping these claims for profit and fostering the reverse discrimination. Here’s one comment we can print from a white supremacist site:

They’re at it again, folks! Another successful White entrepreneur goes down in flames, over supposed “racist” jokes, and the use of “the n” word. The food network fired Paula today, over these supposed “racist” jokes. Apparently, quite a few years back, Paula was joking about hiring all black waiters or something. I’m really sick of seeing successful White people ruined/destroyed, because of these jealous/lazy/White hating savages. These are the same hypocrites eating her food, watching her shows, using her cookware, and buying her books. No, I’m not a Paula Deen fan, but, she’s older/White and from the South. So, it’s hardly a surprise that suddenly, she’s now labeled a “racist.” I suppose now, she’ll be making her rounds on all the liberal talk shows, getting grilled by the slew of “anti-racists'” on the daytime television circuit. It’s pretty scary/disgusting, seeing how much power blacks have over White America, now. How they can blatantly destroy someone’s life and career just like that, is absolutely frightening. How much longer are we gonna sit back, letting these thug creeps run wild on White America?

For a lot of our fellow citizens, downtrodden by life and resentful of  America’s social programs, this sadly rings true– whether we like it or not. If we truly want to move past this sad chapter in our history we will have to adopt the seemingly unattainable virtue that Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied in his prescription for fixing  the problem.  That’s going to require “a nation where [one] will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It will also require that we exercise some restraint when judging emotionally charged allegations at the time they are made.  There is always time to see if the those complaining are motivated by principle or greed and this is doubly true when the allegations are against the most lucrative of targets, the rich and famous. Even “they” are entitled to the benefit of  blind and equal justice.

It was the Greek philosopher and playwright Euripides who reminded us that a tree is best judged by its fruit and not its leaves. That was good advice two and a half millennia ago; it’s good advice today.

Source: CNN


From the Huffington Post:

Before the settlement, the magistrate judge found that Lisa Jackson’s lawyer, Matthew Billups, Esq.  had engaged in conduct warranting disqualification. He was accused of using the media to pressure Deen into a settlement by leaking information and asking irrelevant, embarrassing, and personal questions at her deposition.  Here’s the order requiring Billups to show cause why court-ordered sanctions shouldn’t be imposed. Read the order now.

Here’ a post-settlement statement from Lisa Jackson singing quite a different tune now that the case is settled to what she called her “satisfaction”:

“I assumed that all of my complaints about the workplace environment were getting to Paula Deen, but I learned during this matter that this was not the case.The Paula Deen I have known for more than eight years, is a woman of compassion and kindness and will never tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind toward anyone. I now know that the workplace environment issues that I raised are being reviewed and will in the future no longer be at issue. I wish Ms. Deen and her family all the best in all of their future endeavors and I am very pleased that this matter has been now been resolved and can now be put behind us.” [emphasis mine]

Principle or greed? Do tell there, princess. Do tell.

But a more important question: Where does Paula Deen go to get her reputation back?

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

112 thoughts on “Paula Deen Discrimination Suit Settled – Racism, Not [Updated w/ Incredible Statement From Lisa Jackson]”

  1. Bron,

    No. Property rights are not absolute. That’s a common delusion among both libertarians and Libertarians. Everyone has a right to own property and not to be stripped of it arbitrarily, but the right is not absolute. Never has been since the inception of formal governance. Even in the state of nature, your property right is absolute only insofar as you can kick the ass of someone wanting to take it from you.

    There is a difference between profit made by adding value and profit made by exploitation. Ask those kids working in Asian operated American owned garment factories being paid $3 a day for 10-12 hour days so you can buy cheap shirts and underwear.

    Also, you know very well – or you should – that my political ideology is far more syncretic than simply saying it’s socialist. I’m not crippled by binary thinking.

    And as far as ocean life goes, I’m more like a dolphin. Maybe a giant squid or cuttlefish.

    But your bad choices are your choices to make . . . including embracing the dehumanizing, tyrannical and sociopathic ideology of Objectivism.

    I’m all for freedom of religion. And from it. But especially freedom from one that worships ego, selfishness and profits.

  2. Gene H:

    Property rights are or should be paramount. There is an economist from Spain or South America who makes a very compelling case that identifies property rights as one of the most important factors in lifting third world countries and the people out of poverty.

    What does exploit people for profit mean anyway? You cant even hire a person if you dont make a profit on their labor.

    Socialist ideology creates an underclass, a permanent very large underclass with a very few anointed socialists running the show.

    I’ll take Objectivist philosophy any day of the week to socialist ideology.

    Pay top dollar for top talent, that is what an Objectivist would say and make a big profit by selling an excellent product for as much as the market will let you sell it for.

    Many poor children are poor because people are like crabs and dont like others crawling out of the bushel basket.

    Are you a crab?

  3. Unless, of course, that child is poor or otherwise socially disadvantaged. Then it’s perfectly okay for the ownership class to exploit them as they will. Economic slavery is just as effective as shackles and much easier to pass off as “a good thing”. Property rights are paramount and absolute. Right?

    You should never brag that you’re willing to exploit people for profit, Bron.

    People remember that sort of thing.

    It makes a lasting impression.

    Not a good one either.

    Your Objectivist ideology requires an underclass.

    Your indignation about “on noes! think of the children!” fools no one.

    Except maybe yourself.

  4. Elaine:

    Just might. White men have been building this country for a long time, almost 300 years, dont you think they have learned something in that time and passed it along to their sons? And now are also passing it on to their daughters because the times have changed.

    Women have been in the work force, in earnest, for only about 30 years. My aunt was a highly competent woman but she was only able to be an executive secretary in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, today she would run a major company. My grandmother worked as a manager in a doctor’s office, today she would have been a doctor.

    There is plenty of opportunity for everyone in this country and blaming failure on white privilege is BS. It gives women and minorities an out if they dont make something of themselves.

    You dont think white men work their a$$es off to achieve success? Many dont get where they wanted to for all sorts of reasons, they dont blame it on minority quotas or black privilege.

    In a free society with a capitalist system, you better be willing to pay a heavy price to be successful or it isnt going to happen. You can do pretty well just working 40 hours a week but you are never going to be wealthy or be in control of much more than a very small business.

    Maybe white males understand that simple fact and I see many minorities and women who understand that fact as well. They are very successful and doing very well.

    Maybe white privilege is better characterized as hard work privilege, those who work hard usually end up running things no matter their race or sex. I see it all around me.

    I would never tell my daughter that she couldnt be successful because of white male privilege, what a horrible thing to do to a person. Start them out in the world with failure thinking? No wonder women and minorities dont do well in life if that is what they are constantly forced to hear.

    What a crock of negative, failure inducing/reinforcing BS.

    I seriously wonder about the motives/character of a person who would destroy a child’s dreams.

  5. We are still not discussing class. That’s an “open discussion” IMHO that needs to be held more than gender or race. I’ve had this experience too many times to think it’s a coincidence. Class is a VERY uncomfortable topic for people of our status. I only have good discussions on class w/ folks in lower classes than us. And, my experience is, even black folk down the ladder understand it.

  6. Blouise, I will not generalize black males. They run the gamut. We are dealing w/ gender and class as well as race in that incident. It was a perfect storm.

  7. Elaine, You missed my point entirely. GENERALLY there is male and white privilege. However, we all know, or at least should know, that generalities are fraught w/ problems. Of course men still pretty much rule the world and many..most feel they are owed that privilege. Myself and mespo are merely saying that to trot out that paradigm every time an issue arises, w/o looking @ the evidence, is generalizing a specific incident. Our justice system is righteously based upon not generalizing an incident. There are rules of evidence. In the public domain there are virtually no rules. As it should be by virtue of the 1st Amendment. Maybe the difference between us, you and Blouise is we have spent our adult lives working in our justice system. And, that’s the reason we have differences on this, Trayvon Martin, and other racial, gender issues. We admit these privileges exist. My question to you is, do you think they exist in every case?

  8. bigfatmike:

    “But again and again in many aspects of life it seems that people with lighter skin color come out better than those with similar abilities and darker skin. And that is no ‘glittering generality’.”

    then how do you account for the phenominal success of Indians [from India] in this country?

    Personally, if a white American and an Indian with identical credentials applied for a job, I would hire the Indian. And many employers do just that.

    1. “then how do you account for the phenominal success of Indians [from India] in this country?”

      I have not read anything regarding success of Indians as an ethnic group so I really cannot give a good answer.

      But a couple of factors that might be relevant come to mind.

      The Indian population in this country might be selected for characteristics that make them very different from the general population.

      The population might have family or cultural characteristics that give them a better chance to overcome any prejudice they encounter.

      The ‘phenominal success” might be a bit of an illusion based on impression of average success of the general population compared to perceived success of part of the Indian population in this country.

      I don’t know if any of those would hold up under careful study.

      It is an interesting question.

  9. “I prefer the micro approach of judging each person according to their own circumstances and actions after all the evidence is in.”

    I think we have to agree with you that each individual should be judged on his or her own gifts, efforts and accomplishments.

    But I think your disparagement of the concept of white privilege is misplaced.

    ‘White privilege’ may not be a technical term. What it refers to may not always determine the outcome of social encounters.

    But, I am pretty sure we could find many careful studies that demonstrate that appearance, specifically skin color, confers and advantage in social encounters related to employment, housing, and many other areas where face to face contact occurs.

    I seem to recall a study that sent similar applicants with identical credentials to job interviews. There was a clear bias for the white applicant.

    That is not the fault of the white applicant. It does not even demonstrate conscious racism. But it does document something that might reasonably be called ‘white privilege.’

    There is also a well known study of unconscious racism based on a few hundred thousand calls by NBA referees. That study was contested by the NBA. But many readers of both studies discount the NBA defense and agree that in the data studied, there was a significant bias in the foul calls of NBA referees. The authors did not accuse the referees of conscious racism. The point the article was that under the best of circumstances, with the best of intention, individuals may still make biased decisions of which they are completely unaware.

    The relevance of unconscious bias to this discussion is that unconscious bias is one mechanism through which ‘white privilege’ might operate.

    People can dispute the existence of ‘white privilege’.

    But again and again in many aspects of life it seems that people with lighter skin color come out better than those with similar abilities and darker skin. And that is no ‘glittering generality’.

  10. nick,

    I was going to let it go but …

    “Please don’t think some poor white kid living in a trailer park has “white privilege” over the black children of a successful attorney. Damn, the Obama kids have an advantage over virtually all kids in this country.”

    Two words … Trayvon Martin

    (white privilege is not “privileged”)

  11. bettykath,

    Do you think I dare suggest that women have an easier time grasping the actuality of white privilege because we have to deal with male privilege?

  12. nick,

    “I understand a white person generally has advantages. ”

    Of course you do which I never doubted for a minute. I was addressing you because you were willing to debate the matter, not because I thought you needed to have your conscious raised or even be educated on the issue. After all, you were a history teacher and you know a great deal about the white, protestant, landowners and the cultural views of race and the expectation of dominance as a structural feature of society the British brought with them when they came to North America. British cultural predisposition to see themselves as inherently superior as a distinct race of people is well documented and we were, after all, British colonies.

    The need for cheap labor led our “superior” forefathers to first attempt to convert indentured white servants as slaves but since most of those servants were from England with a strong a sense of their rights as freemen, the plan failed. Next on the list were Native Americans but they could easily escape and disappear into native populations. This left black Africans, who were in an unfamiliar land, looked very different from the rest of the population and thus had no place to hide. Permanent slavery became their lot and white privilege became ours.

    White privilege is not a code word for racist. Far from it. Understanding white privilege allows the white person to move out from the constraints of race without guilt and into empathy. But it is a wholly personal move, a self epiphany, if you will. And once having moved beyond the invisible constraints of white privilege, one never moves back.

  13. Okay.

    You’re madcap, Mark.

    Possibly even zany. :mrgreen:

    You and your paying attention to the situations and individuals in analysis . . . why that’s almost scientific!

  14. Yep. Privilege, whether white privilege or male privilege, doesn’t recognize privilege.

    White privilege and male privilege aren’t about how you judge others. It’s about how you take advantage of your privilege (or not!).

    In our society, if you are white, you have privileges that those who are not white don’t have. In our society, if you are male, you have privileges that females don’t have. It takes work and introspection to recognize when you have the opportunity to take advantage of your privilege and then refuse to do so.

    If you are white and think you don’t have white privilege, or if you are male and think you don’t have male privilege, you are deluded and in serious need of self-examination.

  15. Blouise, I understand a white person generally has advantages. I am not the least bit defensive, guilt ridden or ashamed of that. It’s simply the reality. Short men, fat people, ugly people..I could go on, have distinct disadvantages. Tall people, trim and good looking people have advantages. Life’s hard, wear a freakin’ helmet. However, I tire of talks of race. I much prefer talking about class. There are different classes of every race and CLASS is the topic that virtually everyone avoids. As mespo said, white privilege is way too general. I have a pretty good self awareness, a quality of introverts. I too, like mespo, assess people as they are. Please don’t think some poor white kid living in a trailer park has “white privilege” over the black children of a successful attorney. Damn, the Obama kids have an advantage over virtually all kids in this country. All this said, I respect your views and you. We just have a fairly fundamental disagreement on this issue. C’est la vie.

  16. mespo,

    I do believe your two threads on poor, dear, Paula made that abundantly clear.

  17. nick,

    White privilege is not a value judgement.

    Acknowledging white privilege is not threatening and it doesn’t mean you owe anybody something. Your defensiveness on the matter is understandable as I am challenging your ideas about being white in America.

    You keep introducing other races into the discussion as a means of avoiding the very nature of white privilege being only white and then ask for a penance (caustically) in an attempt to spin white privilege into white guilt. Your reaction is both commonplace and classic.

    The power of being white in this society grants advantages without
    acknowledging same. Some whites argue against this because they don’t “feel” privileged. Others because the privilege has been with them for so long that it is part of their sense of self … but that’s the way it’s always been mantra.

    Like it or not, agree with it or not makes no real difference … white privilege is tightly woven into the fabric of this society. So tightly that it is almost invisible.

    That was the beauty of the Zimmerman Deen legal situations occurring at the same time … the threads of white privilege popped out for all to see … and then deny.

Comments are closed.