Paula Deen is feeling some heat after testifying in a deposition that she has used the N-word. She is also accused of suggesting that her brother use an all-black wait staff at his wedding imitating “slaves” from Shirley Temple movies.
“Deen’s racial statements came to light as part of a deposition in a lawsuit brought by a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, who claimed to be sexually harassed and said the restaurant was rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
Deen was asked in the deposition whether she had ever used the N-word.
“Yes, of course,” Deen replied, though she added: “It’s been a very long time.”
The chef’s representatives issued a statement Thursday saying that it was a different time when Deen admitted using the N-word, and she does not condone its use today.
“She was born 60 years ago when America’s South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus,” the statement said. “This is not today.”
“(the former restaurant manager Lisa) Jackson subsequently asked Deen what type of uniforms she preferred the servers to wear.
“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.” Paula Deen laughed and said “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
“Deen responded to Jackson’s allegations.
“I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I’m wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid somebody would misinterpret.”
So the question is do these types of statements turn you off to Deen or is it like she says people just used to say the N-word in the South? Does it make it acceptable if it was in the past and part of the culture? How much responsibility do stars and their brands bear for past statements or racially insensitive remarks?