Our Voices: It’s been a big and busy week in social issues

Whoa! It has been quite a last two weeks in the news.

It’s been difficult to get a handle on all of it. There’s the continuing saga of TV Deep Fry Chef Paula Deen and her use of the N-word and her homage to the good ole days of well-dressed black maids and servers in plantation homes.

Then, in a ruling some say will take us back to the bad ole days, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act that some say will open the flood gates to restrictive voter registration laws that will hurt minorities.

And, lastly, the Supreme Court’s decision to rule the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, now allowing federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

I don’t have much on this. This issue was never on my radar. If gay people want to marry, why should I care? And if their marriage is legal, then why shouldn’t their rights as a married couple be protected? What I do care about is that over 40 percent (some challenge a 50 percent estimate) of heterosexual marriages end in divorce and that many times children are used as pawns or physically harmed in those bad unions. That’s my concern.

Now to the Supremes’ decision that weakens the Voting Rights Act and gives states the chance to impose unreasonable and restrictive voter registration laws to hurt minority voters.

Once the Supremes ruled 5-4, Texas quickly imposed a voter ID law that a panel of federal judges ruled last year would hurt minority voters.

Those who praise the high court’s ruling claim Texas and other states that are habitually creating voting rules that discriminate have somehow changed and are going to be good in the future.

These supporters say the large number of African-Americans and minorities holding state and local offices are proof the bad states are now good. Hello, didn’t those gains come about because the feds would beat these states over the head when they try to sneak in restrictions to limit minority voter registration and their ability to vote?

I heard a top official, I think from Louisiana, say, we are doing such a great job of conducting elections there is no way we will go back 49 years (to the institution of the Voting Rights Act). My concern is that we will go back 50 years.

About Paula Deen, the reaction could not have been quicker and more decisive. When it hit the fan that she had admitted using the N-word and other allegations of discrimination, Deen’s cooking empire began to melt away faster than garlic butter in a hot sauté pan.

Her bizarre pleas for forgiveness only made things worse. If she brings Jesse Jackson into the fold for help, it will be akin to gasoline on a grease fire.

I worked for years with a guy that used the N-word on more than one occasion, and sometimes while I was less than five feet away. He was a very old white gentleman. Over time, he stopped using the word, at least around me. In fact, he was even helpful in my development as a reporter.

Now, did I forgive his use of the N-word? Nope. We never went to lunch together and we never visited each other. If he were still alive, we wouldn’t be tweeting. But, we coexisted.

One day he gave me a short shrug of an apology. But, I felt it was sincere. That’s all folks expected from Paula Deen. But, she went overboard. Maybe she’ll win folks back down the road, but for now, she is getting her just desserts.

Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is epratt1972@yahoo.com.