Racial slur costs Paula Deen big time

TV chef dropped by Food Network, department store chain and buffet restaurants
Associated Press
Jun 26, 2013

Paula Deen was dropped by Wal-Mart and her name was stripped from four buffet restaurants on Wednesday, hours after she went on television and tearfully defended herself amid the mounting fallout over her admission of using a racial slur.

The story has become both a day-by-day struggle by a successful businesswoman to keep her career afloat and an object lesson on the level of tolerance and forgiveness in society for being caught making an insensitive remark.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday that it ended its relationship with Deen and will not place "any new orders beyond what's already committed."

Caesars Entertainment Corp. said it had been "mutually decided" with Deen to remove her name from its restaurants in Joliet, Ill.; Tunica, Miss.; Cherokee, N.C.; and Elizabeth, Ind.

At the same time, Deen's representatives released letters of support from nine companies that do business with the chef and promised to continue. There's evidence that a backlash is growing against the Food Network, which tersely announced last Friday that it was cutting ties with one of its stars.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Deen had called him and he agreed to help her, saying she shouldn't become a sacrificial lamb over the issue of racial intolerance.

"What she did was wrong, but she can change," Jackson said.

During a deposition in a discrimination lawsuit filed by an ex-employee, the chef, who specializes in Southern comfort food, admitted to using the N-word in the past. The lawsuit also accuses Deen of using the slur when planning her brother's 2007 wedding, saying she wanted black servers in white coats, shorts and bow ties for a "Southern plantation-style wedding."

Deen said she didn't recall using the word "plantation" and denied using the N-word to describe waiters. She said she quickly dismissed the idea of having all black servers.

Deen told Matt Lauer on "Today" on Wednesday that she could only recall using the N-word once. She said she remembered using it when retelling a story about when she was held at gunpoint by a robber who was black while working as a bank teller in the 1980s in Georgia.

In the deposition, she also said she may also have used the slur when recalling conversations between black employees at her restaurants. Asked in the deposition if she had used the word more than once, she said, "I'm sure I have, but it's been a very long time."

Her "Today" show appearance was a do-over from last Friday, when Deen didn't show up for a promised and promoted interview. Deen told Lauer she had been overwhelmed last week. She said she was heartbroken by the controversy and she wasn't a racist.

"I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed because they know what's been said about me is not true and I'm having to comfort them," she said.

Looking distressed and with her voice breaking, Deen said if there was someone in the audience who had never said something they wished they could take back, "please pick up that stone and throw it as hard at my head so it kills me. I want to meet you. I want to meet you." It's an apparent reference to the Biblical passage about whether a woman guilty of adultery should be stoned: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

"I is what I is and I'm not changing," Deen said. "There's someone evil out there that saw what I worked for and wanted it."

An uncomfortable Lauer tried to end the interview, but Deen repeated that anyone who hasn't sinned should attack her.

Asked by Lauer whether she had any doubt that blacks consider use of the N-word offensive, Deen said: "I don't know, Matt. I have asked myself that so many times, because it is so distressing to go into my kitchen and hear" what some young people are telling each other.

Deen said she appreciated fans who have expressed anger at the Food Network for dropping her, but said she didn't support a boycott of the network. Through social media, the network has been attacked by people who said executives there acted in haste to get rid of Deen.

Save for the brief announcement late Friday that it wasn't renewing Deen's contract, Food Network executives have refused to discuss the case publicly, or say whether the network plans to address Deen's fans. There have been online reports that the Food Network removed Deen's programs from the air as early as Saturday; the network wouldn't speak about what it has or hasn't put on the air.

Starting last weekend, there has been a steady erosion of support for the network. The YouGov Brandindex, a measurement of how consumers perceive a particular company or product, said the Food Network's score — which had been generally positive — had dropped by 82 percent in a week. The network has a negative image in the South and West, spokesman Drew Kerr said.

Deen's case has also attracted some odd bedfellows. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said the network has "contributed to the growing un-American atmosphere of fear and silence. Hello, Joseph McCarthy."

Meanwhile, liberal HBO host Bill Maher also said Deen shouldn't lose her show. "It's a wrong word, she's wrong to use it," he said. "But do we really have to make people go away?"

The Food Channel, a food marketing agency based in Springfield, Mo., said it has been flooded with angry messages from people mistaking the company for the Food Network. There have been so many that the agency posted a message to Deen on its website that it would be happy to work with her if possible.

Among the companies expressing support for her via her representatives was Club Marketing Services in Bentonville, Ark., which helps companies sell products at Wal-Mart, and Epicurean Butter.




all I want is the ones next door to cut their grass. doesn't the "N word" mean lazy? Paula is right.


Actually the word is slang for Negro. Negro means black in Spanish. Negroes were slaves and anything but lazy.


Re: "Negroes were slaves and anything but lazy."


The Spanish Conquistadors and the Portuguese colonists attempted to make slaves of the Indians, but they didn't have the proper "work ethic."

So they purchased and imported slaves from Africans who enslaved their fellow African enemies - blame the Spanish & Portuguese.

Many fortunes of some of the "finer" families of New England were built upon the slave trade.


The stereotype of a lazy person came from the white slave-owners explanation for harsh treatment and whipping. In reality it was torture meant to terrorize.


After spending some time in the South I learned that racism is pervasive. It is a part of the culture. It is the wish for a better time, when slaves did the manual labor and whites profited from it. That is where the "plantation-style" wedding idea came from. Comments that Ms. Dean might make in the North might be considered racist, but in the South common.


Re: "After spending some time in the South I learned that racism is pervasive."


Ever heard of the "Reverse Migration"?

Many educated blacks are heading South because they can't find work in the North.

Also, with the Reconstruction, blacks obtained the right to vote, while most Northern states still prohibited it.

Read some OH history. Plenty of finger pointing to go around.


You have got to be kidding me. You actually have the nerve to call me names. I wrote what I observed. Period. My comment was based on recent experience not information found in a book.


Re: "My comment was based on recent experience,"

As is mine.

Yours reads like an anecdotal self-fulfilling prejudicial prophecy.


Self-fulfilling? I don't benefit. None of us do. In rural areas in the deep South I was treated with distrust as soon as I opened my mouth. In one establishment I was asked where I came from and told to leave. That I would get "no service here" and to "git back north were you belong."


Re: "I was asked where I came from and told to leave."

Unless you're black, you're OFF TOPIC.

Want racial prejudice? Go to Boston.

Many there believe that "civilization" ends at the Charles River too. :)


"It is the wish for a better time, when slaves did the manual labor and whites profited from it."

Calling you on your history lesson. You have to admit that the north in general is blamed for the loss of their way of life.


Re: "whites profited from it,"

The wealthy New England textile mill owners weren't too concerned about the origin of the cotton. They just needed MORE.

Also, the conditions of how slaves were treated in the South was regional not monolithic.

Your historical view appears to have largely been shaped by Hollywood - NOT reality.

If you haven't, read: "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington.

The Big Dog's back

Your disrespect for women and people of color is no secret. Who the he!! are you to tell someone what they and many, many others experienced, especially women and blacks, is a lie?


Re: "1st of all I like Paula Deen."

So let's see you defend her. :)


I can't help but agree with you. My family is from Mississippi and south Carolina and it is still alive and thriving.

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

It wasn't in the too distant past that Jesse Jackson called Jews "hymies" and New York City "hymietown". Also Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c-nt and her special needs son retarded..all with no consequences from advertisers etc. BIG double standard when it comes to Liberals. A soulless lot.
And to think Paula Deen, who is a registered Democrat, promoted and voted for Barack Obama.

The Big Dog's back

What's that have to do with anything?


Politics is most definitely off-topic. I don't agree that Ms. Deen should have lost her job over this. I am concerned that she didn't seem to understand why the plantation-style wedding would be offensive.

@Mime: The reaction from southerners to my lack of southern dialect was unrelated to my politics. There are plenty of northern republicans. I don't care for the descriptions used in your examples either, put then we didn't go to war over either example.


Re: "The reaction from southerners to my lack of southern dialect was unrelated to my politics."

And those with southern accents are NEVER discriminated against in the North? LOL.

BTW: Slaves were essentially useless during the long winter months in the North. Hence, a major variable to the differences in the developing cultures.

Blacks in numerous Northern states including OH could not own property and had few rights prior to AND after the Civil War.



I've read it, have you?

Unfortunately, slavery became institutionalized in the U.S. Most other countries ended slavery without a need for bloodshed.

The Civil War may have FREED blacks, but in numerous cases they became WORSE off.

H*ll, even the North reneged on "forty acres and a mule."

Also, Northerners put up rules and regulations (including labor unions) which sought to prevent blacks from migrating and taking jobs in their states.

For Northerners to be sanctimonious on this issue when there clearly is bigotry in their present and past demonstrates naiveté, arrogance and sheer prejudice.

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

Oh the irony.


The N word is used by a sector of African Americans that use it as a "term of endearment." Because it was used by whites as an insult during slavery and the days of Jim Crow blacks are generally apalled by causcasians using it. You can disagree but it is what it is. As a citizen of the United States you have to be able navigate thru ALL unpolitical rhetoric. A gay person can use gay slurs towards a gay person and they laugh. If your not gay it's an insult. Your not going to change it by saying it's wrong. A man can call a woman a female dog and it's an insult but if her girlfriend calls her that jokingly it's ok. Know the lay of the land.

The Good Doctor

My sentiment exactly!


No one can say she isn't a hard worker, she overcame a lot to get where she is. She made a mistake, we all do, lets forgive her, she donates to charity, employs many
Americans, and regrets all of this.

The Good Doctor

She said what she meant. I have no sympathy for her plight.


So you've never made a mistake in life that you had to learn from? Wow, I never knew a perfect person would ever exist in this world. Somebody give this person a medal!


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Ms. Deen is worth an estimated $10M.

Not-to-worry, IMO she'll do fine.

Wonder if the Food Network will keep her son Cheater on?

He made healthy alternatives to his mom's recipes.


how stupid are people? it's a word get over it, if a word hurts you that bad, then i feel sorry for you, because anyone who is offended by that word is just ignorant and just plain juvenile. Persons of color can use any word they want to, especially the n-word,and nobody cares, but as soon as a white person says the word, it is the worst thing anyone has ever said. What a joke, get a life idiots.


You wouldn't believe what I call my ex.


BooHoo. She has plenty of money. People get fired and sued everyday for stupid things. Maybe she could get a job at the Chick-Fil-A or write a book about it, like famous people often do. I just don't care.