(LOS ANGELES) — Paula Deen has whipped up a frenzy on the Internet with her admission that she’s used racial slurs in the past.
The celebrity cook known for her high-calorie recipes stated in a recent deposition — the details of which were reported Wednesday — that she’s used the N-word multiple times. The deposition was related to a 2012 sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee of Deen’s Savannah, Ga., restaurant against Deen and her brother.
According to TMZ.com, a lawyer asked Deen if she has ever used the N-word. Her response: “Yes, of course.”
The 66-year-old Deen explained that she uttered the slur in 1986, when she was working as a bank teller and had been held at gunpoint by a black robber. She said she did not use the N-word in the presence of the robber, but “probably” when she was recalling the incident to her husband afterward.
When asked if she’s uttered the slur since then, Deen answered, “I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.” She added that she could not remember the context in which she said the N-word again.
She later testified that she “probably” uttered the N-word during “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.”
The Huffington Post offers additional details on the deposition. The website reports that when Deen was asked if she believes jokes that include the N-word are “mean,” she said, “That’s — that’s kind of hard. Most — most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target — I don’t know. I didn’t make up the jokes, I don’t know. I can’t — I don’t know.”
Deen was also questioned on the planning of a wedding years ago, confirming she used the phrase “really southern plantation wedding,” or something to that effect, in suggesting that black waiters be hired for the event.
The suggestion was based on an experience Deen had had at a restaurant that employed black waiters, though she insisted during the deposition that she did not utter the N-word to describe them because “that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.”
Predictably, Deen’s remarks during the deposition were quickly picked up and mocked on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet.
On Wednesday, Deen’s rep released the following statement: “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.”
Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers, have been sued by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. Jackson has alleged that she was sexually harassed during her time of employment, and that racially-insensitive comments were uttered at the restaurant.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN Newswire
Jim Bennett, Deseret News