Paula Deen clarifies stance on racial slur, Food Network responds
Paula Deen recently admitted in a federal court deposition for a racial discrimination lawsuit that she has used a racial slur in the past and adds that she does not find use of such a term acceptable, while the Food Network, which airs her shows, says it is monitoring the situation.
Last year, Deen, 66, and her brother Earl W. "Bubba" Hiers were sued for alleged racial and sexual discrimination by Lisa Jackson, who used to work as a manager of their restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. Jackson, who is seeking $1.2 million in damages, claims Deen used a racial slur in front of her while describing her vision for "a true Southern plantation-style wedding" for her brother's 2007 ceremony (check out more details about the lawsuit).
Deen has denied any wrongdoing. During a videotaped deposition that took place in May and whose transcript was recently filed in a Georgia federal court (as seen in documents posted by Talking Points Memo), she was asked if she had ever used the slur in general. She replied, "Yes, of course," adding that it occurred "probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head."
She said she did not use it in front of the man, but rather while talking to her husband about the incident. Deen also said in the deposition that she had used the word since then, but that "it's been a very long time."
Her company, Paula Deen Enterprises, said in a statement posted by People: "During a deposition where she swore to tell the truth, Ms. Deen recounted having used a racial epithet in the past, speaking largely about a time in American history which was quite different than 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. This is not today."
To be clear, Ms. Deen does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstance by anyone nor condone any form of racism or discrimination," the statement added.
The Food Network, which continues to air episodes of Deen's shows "Paula's Best Dishes" and "Paula's Home Cooking," said in a statement to OTRC.com that the cable channel "does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion," adding: "We will continue to monitor the situation."
Deen's lawyer told ABC News that the chef "does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable" and is "looking forward to her day in court."
Deen added in her deposition that she is "sure" family members have used the racial slur while telling jokes at home, adding: "My husband is constantly telling me jokes." She said she was not offended, "because it's my husband."
"That's just not a word that we use as time has gone on," she added. "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."