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Paula Deen admits to using racial slurs

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Paula Deen admits to using racial slurs

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The Food Network announced that it will fire renowned chef Paula Deen after the Southern food diva was sued for racial discrimination and acknowledged in a court deposition that she had previously used a racial slur.

Deen is dealing with a public relations nightmare as a result of a videotaped court deposition she provided as part of a civil case brought by a former manager of their Savannah, Georgia restaurant against her and her brother, Bubba Hiers. In it, when asked whether or not she’s ever used the “N-word,” she replies, “Yes, of course,” but adds “It’s been a long time.”

When asked if she viewed jokes that used the “N-word” as “mean,” she replied: “That’s hard. Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. … They usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know – I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

She and her brother are being sued for sexual and racial harassment by a former manager at one of Deen’s restaurants in Savannah, Georgia.

The Food Network announced in a statement that it “will not renew her contract” when Paula Deen’s contract expires at the end of this month.


The network, which is owned by Scripps Network Interactive Inc., stated on Thursday that it “does not accept any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion,” but a spokeswoman declined to make any other comments.

Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff, claimed that in 2007, Deen gave her the task of organizing the catering for Mr. Hiers’ wedding. According to Jackson, Deen expressed her desire for the wait staff to be made up of black men dressed in “long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and black bow ties, you know, in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now, that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn’t it?” Deen allegedly said. “But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

For many, the message was clear: Deen approved of racial slurs and wanted a group of black waiters to dress up as slaves for her plantation-style wedding.

Bill Franklin, Ms. Deen’s attorney, stated: “Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court.”

Her company issued a statement Thursday saying Deen used the epithet, but in a “quite different time” in American history.

“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.”

After Deen missed her scheduled appearance on the NBC morning show “Today” to discuss the controversy, the network made the decision to fire her. Later, she expressed regret in a video that was uploaded online.

“I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this,” Deen said in one video posted on YouTube and other websites.

The fallout from “being labeled a racist, fairly or unfairly, is serious,” argues Mike Paul, a public relations manager specializing in crisis management based in New York . His past clients include the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, which was dealing with the fallout from a racist tirade delivered by “Seinfeld” actor Michael Richards on its stage in 2006.

He claims that racial public relations missteps are some of the hardest he has to deal with since “that story doesn’t go away overnight. It resonates with people on both sides, wins ratings for the news, and scares the heck out of businesses, business partners, and sponsors. This should be the top issue Paula Deen has in her life right now.”

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