Deen said she got the idea from another restaurant at which the couple dined. Said Deen, per the Enquirer: "Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n-----s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and black bow ties. You know, in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around."All right, this is so wrong on so many levels. First, obviously, don't use the n-word. Second, a slave-themed wedding is a terrible idea. But — and I know these are lesser offenses, but I've got to say it — slaves don't wear shorts. Modern American white men wear shorts all too often and look like overgrown boys when the do so. For all of the diminishment of black men over the years — including calling them "boy" — the stereotype did not have them dressed in shorts.
And, obviously, there were all sorts of problems with the way black people were depicted in old Hollywood movies, let's at least get it clear in our minds what the movie reference is. There was a 1935 Shirley Temple movie called "The Littlest Rebel," and here's what it looked like when Bill Bojangles Robinson (playing the slave "Uncle Billy") danced. He's not tap dancing "around" — as if slaves dance around while working — he's giving a performance at an elegant affair — as a soloist, not in "a bunch." And he's not in shorts and shirt-sleeves. He's wearing long pants and a vest and a jacket. So Deen's mental image of what went on in the bad old days of Hollywood is itself an embarrassing distortion.