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.”

Solving our Racial Problem—or, When is a Neighborhood Integrated?

By Thomas Kochman - 12.05.2009

Charles Blow’s op ed column Black in the Age of Obama points out that the lives of Black people have not gotten better since Obama’s ascendancy to the Presidency –he cites statistics and examples that show in many respects black lives have become worse. He also points out the dilemma blacks face “how to air anxiety without further arming Obama’s enemies [which] has rendered blacks virtually voiceless on some pressing issues at a time when their voices would have presumably held greater sway.”

What also needs to be mentioned is the effect the Obama Presidency has had on whites, those who generally support Obama, and, prior to his election, could also be counted upon to oppose racism and ongoing injustices against blacks and other ethnic minorities. How has Obama’s Presidency affected their ability to speak out?

The answer to that can be partly found in the response that people gave to the question we asked a mixed racial group during the height of desegregation some years ago, “When is a neighborhood integrated?” White Answer: “When the first black family moves in!” Black answer, “When the ratio of blacks and whites is about 50-50.”

These different responses are telling. Read more »