I grew up in Iowa in the 1940s. My grandmother, who lived with us, was a compassionate woman who had been a suffragette. She understood people, including me. When I was four, or five, or six, she took me to prayer meetings in the black sections of Des Moines. She understood what it was to be unrepresented.
Later in my twenties, I was on a Sunday drive with the in-laws of my first husband. We were in a lovely white part of town and drove by a nice house on a hill. In the yard was a black family with two small children playing on the lawn. My mother-in-law looked at this and said, “Doesn’t that look terrible!” She was not a bad woman but had never had experience with black families (or, for that matter Jewish families) living in her neighborhood.
Fast forward to the present. I now have several friends who have married someone from another race, religion, or background. I have several gay and lesbian friends and have several friends and relatives with LBGT children. I am thrilled to honor my grandmother by embracing all of them. Familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds love.
So for Paula Deen, and everyone else on this path, I support you willingness to face and acknowledge your fears and prejudices, look them in the eye, and get on down the road. She told the truth. The consequences may be difficult, but the truth will set her free.
I am honored to have been named Anne for my grandmother, Anna Ayers Williams.