Paula Deen earned her fame by serving up home-style Southern fare that goes down easy — but this might be a hard dish to swallow.
Lisa Jackson, a former manager at Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, is suing the celebrity chef and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers (no we did not make that name up), for $1.2 million for sexual and racial harassment.
So far, Jackson seems to have a pretty good case.
A deposition from May has surfaced in which Deen admits not only to using the N-word, but also to making racist and anti-Semetic jokes.
According to the transcript, when a lawyer asks her point blank if she has ever used the N-word herself, Deen doesn't miss a beat.
"Yes, of course."
Hmm. "Of course," as in … she assumes everyone uses that word? We're still not sure what to make of that.
When the questioning then turns to the subject of offensive jokes, Deen brushes it off with a simple explanation.
"It's just what they are, they're jokes," she quips.
The lawyer presses on, asking if she considers those that use the N-word to be "mean," which is when Deen really lays it all on the table, so to speak.
"That's kind of hard," she concedes, because … "Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target — I don't know — I didn't make up the jokes, I don't know. I can't _ I don't know … I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."
Newsflash to Ms. Deen: Telling racist jokes offends people.
But that's just the beginning. In addition to these admissions, Deen reveals that she had, at one point, expressed interest in hiring black waiters to dress as slaves at a wedding — well, kind of. In the transcript, the star explains that it was an innocent idea hatched during a dinner with her husband out at a restaurant.
"The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie," she recalls. "I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America … after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War … It was not only black men, it was black women … I would say they were slaves."
Just to clarify, however, Deen explained, "I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look and their professionalism." Which apparently reminded her of that bygone era when black people looked and worked … like slaves?
Deen has certainly survived PR missteps before — like her feud with Anthony Bourdain, who in 2011 called her "the worst, most dangerous person to America" due to her artery-clogging cooking style — though none that come even remotely close to this.
Only time will tell whether Deen can climb out of this hole, but it's hard to imagine that her goose isn't cooked … or should we say fried?
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