Paula Deen Hasn't Learned a Thing, Shares Photo of Son in Brownface

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Oops, she did it again. Paula Deen, who has been off the radar since her 2013 admission of using the N-word and wanting to hire "slaves" to cater a pre-Civil War era wedding, shared a photo on social media that depicts her dressed as I Love Lucy's title character, alongside her son who is in full brownface as Ricky Ricardo.

For someone who has more or less lost her career over being racially insensitive, one would expect at least a smidgen of evolution on the issue, yet here we are, discussing why Deen deemed this photo appropriate for a silly #TransformationTuesday share.

It's safe to assume that Deen employs publicists to keep her on brand and out of any more controversy. But there's only so much a publicist can do to cover up the true belief system of their employer. If Paula Deen's attitudes on race are problematic, they will bubble up in some form, no matter how many prepared statements she memorizes.

Take her 2014 apology tour, for instance. On The Today Show, Matt Lauer asked what she had learned. Deen decided to use the moment to plug her products:

"I’ve learned so much over the year; it’s going to require another book. We are working on a documentary that’s going to air on [my] network because I feel like everybody needs to know the whole entire story.”


After Lauer repeated the question, Deen snapped back: “I’m getting to that...Now I forgot what I was going to say.”

She eventually got around to saying: "It’s the power of words, I don’t care how old they are, words are so powerful. They can hurt, they can make people happy. Well, my words hurt people. They disappointed people, frankly I disappointed myself."

And images can hurt people too, as she's learning today.

Deen is part of a certain generation that's not exactly known for its progressive attitudes (Donald Trump, who's had a lot to say about Mexicans recently, was born six months before Deen). And she comes from the South, a region where racism is so rampant and unapologetic that black churches are still burned to the ground in 2015. It's sadly not surprising that Deen felt comfortable enough to share those details about her plantation wedding idea in 2013. It didn't occur to her that the history of slavery might be more than just an aesthetic palette she's nostalgic for. That same flavor of ignorance also finds itself all over this latest faux pas.

Some people defend Deen by saying that she just can't help it; she's an older person from the South. It's true that we all are products of how we were raised and where we come from, but it's too easy to treat our origins as unalterable facets of who we are. We can't blame Deen for being brought up in a world where racial epithets and offensive depictions of other races was the norm, but we can blame her for perpetuating that ideology and refusing to educate herself.

There is comfort in ignorance, in not admitting prejudice and how you might be contributing to it. That's a comfort rich white people like Paula Deen and Donald Trump can afford...for now.

There are racists among us. Confederate flags still fly over government buildings. Mexican immigrants are stripped of their humanity and labeled illegal. But a new generation is rising up, climbing flagpoles to bring down racism and promote empathy. Progress can seem slow at times, but there's no doubt that we're on the move, and Deen serves as a reminder of where we've been and why we refuse to go back.