I like Paula Deen and, even though we don't share a lot in common when it comes to food (I'm vegetarian and stay away from dairy), I think there is a lot entrepreneurs can learn from her. And this still applies, regardless of whether or not she is "racist."
One of the things I mentioned in my review of her book two years ago, which we do have in common, is that we're both from the South. I've spent most of my life here. I was born in Nashville, which is where I live now, and I've also lived in both Memphis and a small town in Mississippi, both known for racism.
Not to call out relatives, but my own grandfather was known to use the word "nigger." It pissed me off so much, I once considered getting him a FUBU shirt as a gift, hoping the irony would somehow make me feel better.
And once, I had to stop Christmas festivities when my uncle told a joke about Mexicans, reminding all of my relatives that Jesus was also a man of color.
I was born in 1972. Paula Deen is was born in 1947 and I'm sure her experiences, as well as what was considered acceptable, were much more intense.
Age isn't an excuse. My father, born in 1945, and my mother, also born in 1947, were both born in the South and neither thinks or feels like my grandfather or uncle.
So I'm not making excuses.
But racism is something that exists everywhere and, when you see it all the time, it's easy to think that's the way things are. It's not "bad people being evil" as much as it is normal people, just like you or me, who picked up a bad thought pattern and never questioned it.
People are flawed, but even the most flawed people can teach us something. I think it's easy, in situations such as what Paula Deen is dealing with now, for everybody to jump in and take a swing. To me though, that's no different than the "bad thought pattern" of racial slurs -- both things happen due to frustration and feelings of powerlessness.
Let's learn from Paula Deen's situation and start being nicer to to each other!