Paula Deen is in serious hot water after she admitted to using the N-word on several occasions, making racist comments and jokes, and even trying to get black people to dress up as slaves for an antebellum-themed wedding.
Deen has been the subject of many controversies during her day, but this one may be the one to take the cake.
She has branded her cooking career around her persona of a lovable chef from the South, but it seems as though her Southern ways may dig a little further back into history than most of her viewers would like.
The May 17 deposition where she made the alleged admissions is part of a $1.2 million lawsuit brought by Lisa Jackson, the former manager of a Savannah, Georgia, restaurant run by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers.
Jackson alleges in the suit that Deen used the N-word at the restaurant and that Hiers sexually harassed her, according to Foxnews.com.
Deen tried to defend herself by saying that the incidents happened a long time ago.
When the lawyer asked the Southern-style cook if she ever used the N-word she said, “Of course.”
While she said she couldn’t remember many specific situations when she used the word, she did remember using it when a black man robbed a bank where she used to work.
“It was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head,” Deen said. “…the gun was dancing all around my temple… I didn’t – I didn’t feel real favorable towards him.”
After admitting that she had used the N-word again after that incident, she pointed out that she would never use it now.
“But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on,” Deen said. “Things have changed since the ‘60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.”
Deen also admitted that she tried to have black people dress up as slaves for a Civil War-themed wedding.
When the lawyer began questioning the 66-year-old cook about the “very Southern plantation wedding,” she admitted that she was inspired by the outfits that black waiters wore at a Civil War-themed restaurant.
It only took a few extra questions to get her to admit that she did believe the waiters were dressed as slaves and that she did wanted the same type of costume used in the Southern wedding.
Early in the deposition, Deen revealed that she had no problem telling racist jokes, adding that much of today’s humor is based on stereotypes of other races.
“It’s just what they are, they’re jokes,” she said before being asked if she would ever consider using the N-word in a mean way.
“That’s – that’s kind of hard,” she said. “Most – most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target – I don’t know. I didn’t make up the jokes.”
Her brother Bubba Hiers is also a part of the lawsuit, accused of sexual harassment.
Deen didn’t see anything wrong with her brother’s behavior and claimed that his inappropriate actions should be forgiven.
“My brother and I had conversations,” she said. “My brother is not a bad person. Do humans behave inappropriately? At times, yes. I don’t know one person that has not. My brother is a good man.”
While the controversy certainly isn’t the best type of publicity, it probably won’t impact Deen’s ratings very much.
Her Southern style cooking show has a unique niche and her viewers may not actually be offended enough by her use of the N-word to stop tuning in to the program.
Many older white women from the South have had their own personal experiences using the N-word and will probably be quick to forgive Deen for ever using it, even if they don’t condone the use of the word now.