I’ve piled on Paula Deen with criticism on Twitter yesterday and today already; no need to rub salt in the wounds here at the blog. But, having just seen her apology video, I feel like I need to say something to people in general with racist attitudes who may one day need to publicly apologize.
If you are sincerely sorry, that will probably show. If people ridicule you after your apology, as is already the case with Deen, you probably know you’re racist and didn’t fake your regret well enough, or you’re still confused about what racism is.
You see, being sorry that you’re taking heat, and hurting because of it, isn’t the same as being sorry about what you’ve said and done.
And so, to all of you out there who hold racist beliefs but realize they may be a little screwed up (and you want to begin change but haven’t quite figure out how to yet) or those of you who have said racist things or done racist things recently and don’t understand why people are taking it badly and wish they wouldn’t be so “sensitive,” here is a template for you. Modify as needed. But remember, in the end, to own your feelings, however screwed up they may be, instead of faking contrition or simply asking to be forgiven without giving any indication you’ve done anything to mend your ways or repair the damage you’ve done. I suspect people will respect you more for being yourself, however fucked up, rather than pretending regret you don’t possess.
Template for Public Apology If You Are Racist
Clearly, my actions as reported in the media recently have put me in a racist light, and that may or may not be true. To be honest, I can’t really say I feel sorry for what I did, because I didn’t think that what I did was evil. If I thought it was, I wouldn’t have done it. Honestly, when this mess first started, I felt like people were being oversensitive, and a part of me still thinks that.
Certainly, what I did wasn’t meant to hurt people who don’t deserve to be hurt and for anyone who feels it was aimed at them or that I have unfairly included them under an umbrella of insult or accusation, I’m sorry. Frankly, I simply don’t see most people who look like you in a good light. Maybe most of you are OK, but that’s not the way I’ve seen it.
Now, I never thought I was racist; just figured I was seeing things the way they are. I’m still not sure I think I am racist. But with so many more of you out there saying I did something racist than are saying I didn’t, I may have to reevaluate my opinion of myself and my beliefs.
But the bottom line is, I can’t promise you I’m going to change, and I’m not sure I want to. My friends and family are still who they were before, and these are people who had no problems with my attitudes and views and, in fact, have supported them. I’m still going to be hanging around them. Also, I simply feel more comfortable hanging around people who are like me. Most of us feel that way. I have to decide if it’s more important and comfortable to me to remain as I am and continue to hold the same views, or to change. I probably won’t change, though, because just like you wouldn’t simply change your views because I told you to, I don’t want to change because someone else told me too, either.
However, I can say this: What I did is deemed unacceptable by most people in this country. That’s obvious, because I’ve been called out on what I did—and if there is one thing I am sorry for truly and sincerely, it is having done what I did so obviously, instead of keeping it to myself. And, you’re right, what I did was inappropriate for its blatancy. So, while I cannot promise I will stop holding views you see as racist or stop telling racist jokes to my friends and family, I can say that I will, out a sense of decency that I was clearly lacking, not continue to do this in any public fashion, nor subject people who work for me or with whom I work to the kind of thing I’ve been called out on.
I had no right to be in the faces of the people whose faces I got into, and that includes you, the public. But neither do I feel you have any right to tell me who to be in private, so, honestly, I’m probably not going to change much inside. From now on, though, I will keep it inside and undercover, like I should have done to begin with.