An Open Letter to Paula Deen

By Jean Mavrelis - 06.29.2013

This open letter by Janus Adams, an African American, is so beautifully written.

The response reveals the strategy we try to teach white folks in our seminars who find themselves accused of the “r” word: racism.

Janus Adams wrote to Paula Deen in her open letter, “Do you understand that millions of hard-working people only want to hear you say: ‘I said the things I said. I was wrong. I’m willing to learn and to grow?’”

White folks react to the “r” word as if their moral character has been attacked, and anyone who uses it has done something worse than whatever they did to bring on the accusation.

There’s a strategy here that we share with Caucasian folks in our seminars: African Americans are amazingly forgiving if you admit you said or did something that adversely impacted them regardless of your intent.

If you admit you were wrong, and are willing to learn and to grow, there will be forgiveness.

As my husband and co-author of Corporate Tribalism, Thomas Kochman, says, “With African Americans, honesty works for you more than prejudice or ignorance works against you, especially if you are seen to be sincerely working to correct the problem.  What African Americans hate most is denial.”