Paula Deen To Mentor Young Black Men at Steve Harvey's Camp
America's Favorite Down Home Racist Paula Deen is trying to make good in the world, with a little help from her pal Steve Harvey. Deen visited The Steve Harvey Show for an episode that will be aired Thursday night, where Harvey announced that he's invited Deen to participate in his mentoring camp for fatherless young men and teach them culinary skills. As per the camp's website, nearly all of the young men are black. The former Food Network star's golden butter empire fell when, last year, she admitted to using racial slurs against her employees and longing for a wedding staffed by all black waiters. So it seems more than a little incongruous that Harvey has invited Deen to become a mentor to young black men.
As Yesha Callahan at The Root asks, "So you’re telling me the Neelys, G. Garvin, Carla Hall and the countless other black chefs weren’t available? Of all people to choose, you go for a so-called reformed racist?" So-called is right — despite embarking on a frenzied, heavily publicized press tour called Paula Deen Live! in an attempt to reclaim her "good name" after she was fired from the Food Network and shunned by her endorsement deals, Deen has continued to make missteps that make her reformation story seriously doubtable.
On one stop of her butter bonanza apology tour, Deen compared her "struggle" to black football player Michael Sam, who came out as gay: "I’m fighting to get my name back. I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out." Oh, Deeny. It's in fact NOTHING like that.
And isn't that truly the problem with bigots? So often they feel like being called out and criticized for their obvious racism is the same kind of discrimination that they are perpetrating against minorities. Harvey spoke for Deen, defending her: "She's saying I made a wrong, this is who I really am, this is how I want to present myself." He went on to say: "This is how you get something from something. There has to be good behind everything. [The good] outweighs the bad by a landslide." And in a final shining moment, he address the blogs that would be inevitably side-eyeing him for his decision: "I don't give a damn."
I can't discredit Harvey completely for choosing how he runs his mentoring program, which ultimately I believe to be a good resource for young boys who might not get that kind of support otherwise. I do have to question his motives, though; I can't quite believe that Harvey is genuine in his efforts to help Deen redeem herself and "get right" with the public; I am more inclined to believe that it's a publicity stunt. I don't think that Deen's presence as a mentor will be beneficial, and in fact, after her public display of rampant racism, I think it's an affront to the community she berated.