Until recently, Paula Deen was probably most well-known for her liberal use of butter on her widely popular Food Network show. Things are changing for the southern chef now, however, as allegations of both racial and sexual harassment are being made public.
Former employee Lisa T. Jackson’s lawsuit alleges that Deen committed acts of discrimination, racism, and even violence throughout her employment at Deen’s Savannah restaurants.
Although Deen’s lawyer says that the allegations are false, Deen does admit to using the “N” word in her deposition for the lawsuit, but denies telling racial jokes:
Jackson lawyer: “Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?”
Deen: “No, not racial.”
Jackson lawyer: “Have you ever used the ‘N’ word yourself?”
Deen: “Yes, of course.”
Deen goes on to explain that she likely used the slur when recounting an armed robbery at the bank she worked at to her husband.
“I didn’t feel real favorable towards him,” she said, referring to the robber.
Jackson lawyer: “Have you used it since then?”
Deen: “I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.”
Well. That clears things up.
Paula Deen claims that she can’t recall the context of other conversations where she’d used the slur, stating that it could have maybe been when she was repeating something someone else had said to her.
“But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on,” she 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.”
Glad she clarified there at the end. In addition to this incident, the deposition is also rumored to include information regarding her desire to cater a “true southern plantation-style wedding”, complete with staff hired to serve food dressed and acting as slaves. Who on earth would find that charming or fun?
As news of the content of the deposition broke, Twitter users did what Twitter users do best. They took Deen’s PR team’s effort at distraction, and used it to put a spotlight on the issue. Check out #PaulasBestDishes if you’d like to see how quickly things can go south. (please note that while there are some funny Tweets, many of these Tweets may be extremely offensive.)
What do you think, is she being genuine? Regardless of the outcome, I think it is very unlikely that she (and her brand) will recover from this one easily.
[h/t to Michael Gray for the heads up on this one!]