The woman who set the Paula Deen racial scandal into motion has spoken out for the first time since it broke last month, telling CNN that her lawsuit "has never been about the N-word."
Lisa Jackson, former manager at one of the celebrity chef's restaurants in Georgia, provided the statement to CNN through her lawyer, Matthew Billips. She is suing Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, alleging they committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House restaurants.
Jackson said that the lawsuit was intended "to address Ms. Deen's patterns of disrespect and degradation of people that she deems to be inferior."
"I may be a white woman, but I could no longer tolerate her abuse of power as a business owner, nor her condonation of Mr. Hier's despicable behavior on a day-to-day basis," the statement provided to CNN's Don Lemon continued. "I am what I am, and I am a human being that cares about all races, and that is why I feel it is important to be the voice for those who are too afraid to use theirs."
Jackson's attorney did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
On Monday, Deen and her brother filed suit against Jackson contending that she has no grounds to allege racial discrimination as a white woman. Their attorneys pointed to the Supreme Court's court's ruling in the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which the court said anyone suing in federal court must have standing.
Jackson has said she was offended by racial slurs she heard while working at the restaurant, and that she has "bi-racial nieces" whose father is African-American.
The original lawsuit has proven very costly to Deen, who has lost her relationship with the Food Network and half a dozen endorsement deals; the planned publication of a book has been canceled. Even if a judge agrees that the case should be partially dismissed, that won't undo the harm to Deen's image.