Celebrity chef and butter fetishist Paula Deen accidentally came out of the bigoted closet of sorts this week when pages of her deposition were released in relation to a lawsuit that alleges Deen and her brother were terrible, violent, racist, sexual harassin', slave drivin' bosses to former employee, Lisa Jackson.
In it, Deen says that "of course" she says the N-word, aka "nigger," that word, you know? The word that's so terrible we call it the N-word and everyone knows what you're talking about. What's shocking is the 1954 casualness of it all. OF COURSE she's used it before. "Geez people, what else are you supposed to call Negroes? By their names? My word! Next thing you know they'll be looking you in the eye and trying to screw your daughters."
Deen claims she doesn't use the word now. (OK) And that all those N-words were being thrown around in the 1980s. (Mmmhmmm) And that if she said the N-word it was in reference to this black guy who, this one time, robbed a bank and put a gun to her head. (Wait? You called a black guy the N-word while he had a gun to your head?) But of course not, though she might have used that word afterwards when talking with her husband. (Oh ...) But she also says that you can say the N-word "in a not mean way." (!!!)
Lawyer: Well, then tell me the other context in which you've used the N-word?
Paula: I don't know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.
Lawyer: Like a joke?
Paula: No, probably a conversation between blacks. I don't -- I don't know. But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. 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.
And this is the part where I'm supposed to assume Paula Deen listens to Wu-Tang Clan and was just hanging with the homies dropping N-bombs and all two of her black friends were cool with it because they were all saying it too, and suddenly we're all 13 and this is the 8th grade and you're all, "But black people get to say it, why can't I say it too" as if someone needs to say the N-word in life, black or white. SAY IT AT YOUR OWN PERIL, WHITE PEOPLE. Everything has consequences. Even for curly headed doyenne restaurateurs.
As if it all couldn't get worse, it does. There's the part about the slavery-themed wedding and ... you're just like, I'm done here.
From Talking Points Memo:
Last month, Food Network chef Paula Deen gave a videotaped deposition as part of a discrimination suit she’s facing in which she discussed her desire to have a “very southern style wedding” for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the “whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men” clad in white jackets and black bow ties, according to a transcript of the deposition filed in federal court in Georgia.
And then there's this whole part where you're like, why am I still reading this?
As evidence that Deen “holds such racist views herself,” the complaint details an incident that occurred when Jackson was in charge of “food and serving arrangements” at Hier’s wedding in 2007. The complaint includes a comment Deen allegedly made when asked by Jackson what type of uniforms the servers should wear at the wedding.
“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers 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,” the lawsuit claims Deen 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.”
In her deposition, which was given last month, Deen denied many of the allegations against Hiers and addressed the alleged comment about his wedding. Deen said she remembered telling Jackson and another employee about a restaurant she went to with an exclusively African-American waitstaff that she wanted to emulate, but was worried about the potential reaction. Though Deen admitted to using the phrase “really southern plantation wedding” she denied having said the N word.
“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,” Deen said. “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 that somebody would misinterpret.”
Deen said “that restaurant represented a certain era in America.” When pressed by Billips, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Deen said she was referring to the period immediately surrounding the Civil War. She also said she knew people might “read something into it” if she used exclusively African-American servers at the wedding.
I feel like right here I should say something about racism and what we, as a people, have to put up with both in public and in private when it comes to hatred, both outward and internalized. I want to say something profound, but I got nothing. All I have to sum this up is that in light of all this drama, a friend of mine commented at her disappointment over Deen's N-bombs as she really wanted to visit the Butter Queens restaurant. (This friend is black.) And now ... well darn it ... she guessed she couldn't!
And all I could think was ...
Racism. Ruining everything for black people in America since 1619.