Before you go judging Paula Deen for her admitted use of the n-word, consider the fact that she grew up in 1950s Georgia, and was already into her 20s by the time "the old racist order broke down," writes John McWhorter in Time. "Her worldview had pretty much jelled. How could she have a perfectly egalitarian take on race growing up when and where she did?" The truth is, Deen and others of her generation "can neither change the past nor completely escape their roots in it."
But they can apologize sincerely, and they can take responsibility for things they've said or done in the past. Deen genuinely seems to have done both, so the Food Network really should take her back, McWhorter writes. She was basically fired for being "a normal person of her time and place," when the truth is that "it would be downright strange if she hadn’t" ever used that word, "and we can assume the same of pretty much any white Southerner of a certain age." Bottom line: "Deen is old and she’s sorry. She should get her job back." Click for McWhorter's full column. (Read more Paula Deen stories.)