Mitchell: Paula Deen’s behavior insults blacks, women
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2013 7:38PM
FILE - June 21, 2013: Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been fired by Food Network after racial slur controversy. Food Network announced they will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires. NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 09: TV personality/chef Paula Deen attends the 2010 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:53AM
Paula Deen is toast. Because when one white woman alleges that another white woman is calling black folks n------, there’s usually something to it.
Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga., has sued the now-ousted Food Network Star, alleging she was “sexually harassed” and worked in a “hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs,” according to the Associated Press.
In a deposition last month, the celebrity chef admitted using the N-word in the past, but also said it has been a very long time since she used the offensive word.
She recalled using the slur in the 1980s in a conversation with her husband about a robber who held her at gunpoint when she worked as a bank teller. She also copped to using the racial slur when “recalling conversations between black employees at her restaurants,” according to a transcript cited in several news stories about the issue.
“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,” she told the lawyer.
That just made the situation worse.
So much so, that on Friday morning Deen canceled a scheduled interview on the “Today” show. Later that afternoon, Deen released a video statement in which she pleaded for forgiveness.
“I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I have done,” Deen said staring directly into the camera. “I want to learn and grow from this. . . . Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally unacceptable.”
Deen confessed to making “plenty of mistakes” and begged her children, team, fans and partners to “forgive” her.
Obviously, there’s no kind way for a white person to refer to a black person as a n-----.
Even Jennifer Lopez landed in hot water with civil rights activists when she rapped about n----- in a Ja Rule song in 2001. Lopez likely got away with her transgression because she was once with P. Diddy, and because she is Hispanic.
But the website “About.com Race Relations” listed several white celebrities who became infamous after being called out for using the slur:
The celebrities included comedian Michael Richards, whose racist outburst included derogatory references about the plight of blacks during the Jim Crow South.
Does anyone even know what Richards is doing these days?
Frankly, it isn’t surprising that Deen has used the N-word in private conversations. The woman is 66 years old and grew up in the South. That’s not to say that every 66-year-old white person has used racial slurs, but few people will be shocked that there are some who did.
But what Deen did or did not say more than 20 years ago isn’t the real problem.
I’m not even shocked that Deen apparently had a hankering for the days when black men waited on white people hand and foot. Frankly, she probably could have the backlash from her outdated racial attitudes.
Deen is toast because the white, female, former manager of her restaurant is also accusing her of allowing sexual harassment to go unchecked in the workplace.
I suspect that most of the people who tune into the Food Network are women.
If Deen loses this case, she would lose sponsors quicker than Tiger Woods lost his endorsements after his extramarital affairs were exposed.
Deen’s fans might understand how she got caught up using the N-word, but they aren’t going to cut her any slack when it comes to allegations that she turned a blind eye to pornography and sexual harassment.
After all, how does a woman whose persona became a symbol of Southern hospitality and family allegedly ignore that her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, watched porn films in the restaurant?
When asked about these allegations in the deposition, Deen’s response was a cavalier, “I guess,” according to the Huffington Post.
The Food Network dropped its Southern belle late Friday afternoon.
Deen won’t suffer. She manages a multimillion-dollar empire, and some people will still buy her cookbooks.
But her behavior should not be seen as insulting only to black people.
She’s a terrible example of what it means to have female power in the workplace.