If you haven't heard, Paula Deen has recently come under legal and social media scrutiny after having said--and done--some really racist things. Good Ol' Paula, the southern-twanged, generally happy Food Network Chef who made her mark on the food world by stealing--I mean creating--soul food recipes that were as unhealthy as they were delicious, has found herself in a conundrum. Apparently, she used racial epithets against an African American couple in her restaurant, and then, to top it all off, she said that she would like to do a southern-style dinner party where black men and women would dress up as servants. Though the media has chopped the statement up to make it look like she would like to have slaves at this wedding/dinner party/whatever you want to call it, it's not clear that this is what she was saying, although I wouldn't put it past her. Long story short, Paula said and did some things that made people mad as hell, particularly the black folk on twitter.
In recent months, I've actually become quite active on twitter (shameless plug: you can follow me @bikomandelagray if you wanna), and, on the day when the Paula Deen news went out, black folk on twitter went off. "Black twitter," as some people call it, developed a hashtag called #paulasbestdishes, wherein they satirically riffed on soul-food dishes by providing a racist twist (you can read about it here). Long story short: black twitter was pissed at Paula, and they let her know it by satirically critiquing her.
Paula felt it, and issued an apology today (see above), wherein she said she was sorry for the wrong things she said and did. But, alas, it was too late; the Food Network served her a platter of "we're not buying it" and fired that ass quicker than you could catch diabetes from one of her dishes. Paula stepped in shit; and she can't clean it off quick enough.
Two things I want to say, and I'm gonna be done. 1: I'm amazed and inspired at the power of black twitter. Though it probably will go under-acknowledged, black twitter played a significant role in the events following the release of Paula Deen's deposition remarks, and, I would suggest, played a huge role in Food Network letting her go. Black Twitter did its thing, and the power of this collective voice should not be overlooked. (I think #blacktwitterpower should be a trending hashtag on twitter because of this).
And, related to 1, 2: given the reality of black twitter power, I wonder what it would take for black people on twitter (including myself) to provide collective responses to more everyday issues, like the problematic prison industrial complex system, gender inequities, homophobia and heterosexism, and other forms of bigotry. It seems to me that, while I'm happy that we do organize around egregious accounts of racism (like Paula or Trayvon Martin), we too often struggle to deal with the more everyday realities of discrimination and oppression that mark our lives as a collective. How powerful would it be, for example, if black twitter organized around the issue of poverty in America, especially when Republican congressmen are somehow claiming that people living on food stamps live too lavishly? Or, as one of my friends on twitter and I discussed, the exorbitant amount of gun violence in Chicago that results in the deaths of many black children (Kanye's been screaming about this since at least The Late Registration)? Now that the power of black twitter is manifest, I wonder if we could harness it in more constructive ways. If we could get Paula off the air in a manner of days, imagine what we could do with more time. I see you, black twitter; and now, I'm hoping that more of the world will see you too.