Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest 1 Share on Fark! 1 Share on Reddit 1 Share on StumbleUpon 2 Tell A Friend (6 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   2 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Paula Deen and Pop Culture Racism

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 7/1/13

Become a Fan
  (13 fans)

From Paula Deen - Composite
Paula Deen 's Racist Montage by jcmedina

Racism is pervasive in popular culture. Rap and hip hop songs, and Hollywood films are often laced with racially insensitive dialog. As a result, kids can gather the very clear (and unfortunate!) impression that racist banter is not only acceptable, but it can also be fun. If "cool" pop stars integrate a steady stream of racist epithets into their songs and movies, then the kids who revere those pop stars will be more inclined to mimic their racist repartee.

Clearly, it would be very difficult to swim upstream against this racist tide in pop culture. And, yet, I think it is essential that we as responsible adults, citizens, parents and educators at least try to do so.  

As the Paula Deen case illustrates, racist vernacular among pop stars can stray too far across the line of good taste and decency. I think it is incumbent on responsible adults to impress upon our kids that using racially denigrating language--no matter which pop culture hero the user may be emulating--is hurtful, damaging and wrong. Racially denigrating language is a form of bullying. Period. By its very nature, racism is never meant to build people up, it is only meant to tear them down.

The language that we use shapes our reality. In environments where the worst kind of racial epithets are commonplace, so are the worst kinds of racism. When we dehumanize people with language, it becomes much easier to inflict the worst forms of racist abuse. The road to many lynchings has been strewn with light-hearted racist banter.

Fortunately, there are proven ways of fighting against racist bullying. In recent years, kids have been creating support groups--both inside and outside of the schools--for LGBT students. I suspect that such enlightened grassroots initiatives are in part responsible for much larger forms of social progress, such as the defeat of DOMA. I feel confident that similar initiatives which are focused on broader "bullying, racism, and diversity" issues could well inspire similarly positive outcomes. If as a society we made as explicit an effort to celebrate the American Melting Pot--in all of its glory and diversity--with as much fervor as we celebrate athletic successes, then I am confident that American pop culture could quickly become an exemplar of ethnic equanimity.

Tim McGettigan is a professor of sociology at CSUPueblo. Tim's primary research interests are in the areas of science, technology, society (STS) and the future and Tim blogs about those topics at the following sites: The Socjournal, (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Stephen Hawking's God: A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion

Elementary My Dear Watson! The Beauty (and Baloney) of Being Right about Everything

It's Alive!! Ray Kurzweil, AI, and Frankentelligence

Feynman's Cosmic Onion

Einstein's God is Irrelevant

Many Worlds, but only One Reality: Stephen Hawking and the Determinist Fallacy


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Racism is pervasive in popular culture. Rap and hi... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, Jul 1, 2013 at 2:21:13 PM
great food for thought!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Monday, Jul 1, 2013 at 10:21:18 PM