"I Didn't Feel Real Favorable Towards Him" And More Justification For Racism From Paula Deen. Ramou Sarr

Not surprisingly, one of my biggest fears is finding out that someone I like is racist. Really, it’s something that I worry about almost as much as whether or not someone is going to speak to me on the train. And I worry about that a lot. As a lady who often loves to eat her feelings, Paula Deen has always been there for me with her ooey gooey and deep fried treats. So you can imagine how my real butter filled heart was broken in pieces when the National Enquirer reported that Deen is a big ol’ racist.

Deen is alleged to have said some pretty ridiculous, pretty racist, and pretty ridiculously racist nonsense during a May 17 deposition, which was held in connection with a court case brought by former Paula Deen Enterprise employee, Lisa Jackson, against Deen and her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers. In the 2012 1.2 million dollar lawsuit brought by Jackson, Jackson alleges racial workplace discrimination against Deen and sexual harrassment, infliction of distress, and assault againtst Hiers.

Unfortunately, the Enquirer has yet to provide the masses with video of the deposition. However, The Huffington Post obtained the transcript in all its racist, antebellum glory. Here’s what Deen had to say in regards to her use of the N-word:

Lawyer: Have you ever used the N-word yourself?
Deen: Yes, of course.

Lawyer: Okay. In what context?
Deen: Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.

Lawyer: Okay. And what did you say?
Deen: Well, I don’t remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple … I didn’t — I didn’t feel real favorable towards him.

Lawyer: Okay. Well, did you use the N-word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?
Deen: Absolutely not.

Lawyer: Well, then, when did you use it?
Deen: Probably in telling my husband.

Lawyer: Okay. Have you used it since then?
Deen: I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.

Lawyer: Can you remember the context in which you have used the N-word?
Deen: No.

Lawyer: Has it occurred with sufficient frequency that you cannot recall all of the various context in which you’ve used it?
Deen: No, no.

Lawyer: Well, then tell me the other context in which you’ve used the N-word?
Deen: I don’t know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.

Lawyer: Like a joke?
Deen: 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.

If I’m following correctly, The Deen School of Racism says that it’s totally fine to refer to black people that you don’t find “favorable” with racial slurs, but things have changed since the 60s, you guys! Deen was also questioned about how a restaurant dining experience inspired her to plan a Southern plantation-style wedding:

Lawyer: Do you recall using the words “really southern plantation wedding”?    Deen: Yes, I did say I would love for Bubba to experience a very southern style wedding, and we did that. We did that.

Lawyer: Okay. You would love for him to experience a southern style plantation wedding?
Deen: Yes.

Lawyer: That’s what you said?
Deen: Well, something like that, yes. And -–

Laywer: Okay. And is that when you went on to describe the experience you had at the restaurant in question?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. We were probably talking about the food or –- we would have been talking about something to do with service at the wedding, and –-

Lawyer: Is there any possibility, in your mind, that you slipped and used the word “n—-r”?
Deen: No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.

Lawyer: Why did that make it a -– if you would have had servers like that, why would that have made it a really southern plantation wedding?

Deen: Well, it –- to me, of course I’m old but I ain’t that old, I didn’t live back in those days but I’ve seen the pictures, and the pictures that I’ve seen, that restaurant represented a certain era in America.

Lawyer: Okay.
Deen: And I was in the south when I went to this restaurant. It was located in the south.

Lawyer: Okay. What era in America are you referring to?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. After the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War.

Lawyer: Right. Back in an era where there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people.
Deen: Well, it was not only black men, it was black women.

Lawyer: Sure. And before the Civil War –- before the Civil War, those black men and women who were waiting on white people were slaves, right?
Deen: Yes, I would say that they were slaves.

Lawyer: Okay.
Deen: But I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look and their professionalism.

To recap, Paula Deen doesn’t see a problem with using the word “nigger” when describing some black people and also thinks that reverting back to the good old days of slavery to celebrate at a wedding is just lovely. I would like to say that I’m surprised, but I’ve learned to prepare myself for the worst. I will say that what’s the most jarring about Deen’s testimony is how completely casual she seems to be about her racism. This tends to scare me much more than visceral, white-hooded racism because it says that the perpetrator doesn’t necessarily think that what they’re saying is wrong, hurtful and, yes, racist.

Deen’s attorney, Bill Franklin, has released a statement, saying, “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.” If her last day in court is any indication of how her next day in court is going to go, I think I can safely say that we should all be prepared for Blackface.

And more importantly, does this mean that I can’t marry the hot Deen son?

Featured image via Shutterstock 

 

comments

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  1. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in
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  2. Hah, when she points out that black women were also slaves, too — her racism is equal opportunity!

  3. i am genuinely surprised by the number of commenters on this post coming to Ms. Deen’s defense, or at the very least, defense of her words. i will admit the source being the National Enquirer is questionable, but whether it was Paual Deen who said these things, or some Joe Schmo living in Idaho, there’s no doubt in my mind that they are absolutely wrong and ignorant. there’s no such thing as being less racist or more racist, and certainly not as a justification for spewing hateful and oppressive language. to claim these kinds of statements as “not racist, just ignorant” or “a reflection of the time she grew up in” is total bull. how about instead of making excuses, you just apologize for saying something hurtful and make a conscientious effort not to do it again? bonus points if you actually try to understand why (though you really shouldn’t need bonus points to want to do that).

  4. I don’t see why a lot of people are commenting, saying it was okay for Paula Deen to call the guy pointing a gun at her head the N word. Yes, I admit, I would have called him a lot of names had it happened to me, but the N word would never even cross my mind, nor would any other words that are of a similar nature, they would be more along the lines of ‘butthole’, or the B word. I don’t see any situation where using a word with such negative connotations would be considered acceptable behaviour, even if it was acceptable in the generation you grew up in. This generation is not the same, and people like Paula Deen need to keep up with what is currently acceptable behaviour, and what is not.

  5. Growing up in a different country I was only faced with the idea of racism upon immigrating to the U.S.A. And I will add that I have never been to the south outside of Florida, but it is something I’d like to do in the future.

    How can one use being southern (region of the USA that defended slavery during the Civil War) as a justification to act in a way that is racist. In her testimony she did not use racist terms, but the fact that she sees no error in describing someone in a derogatory way because of their skin color, even in private, still speaks to her character or lack of it. It would seem that over 150 years after the Civil War being racist would be taboo, especially in the south, instead of using it as an excuse for being ignorant to her racism.

    As a public figure Paula Dean has been a poor example of a human being, between loading recipes with all the butter in the world (which is fine in moderation but not slathered on things that don’t need it), it’s irresponsible to her followers. And then when she was diagnosed with diabetes she was like no-biggie they have a pill for that, and made cash doing diabetes medicine commercials. Is the Paula Dean brand a money maker? Yes, but only because we choose to listen, I personally am not interested in any part of it.

  6. The comments on this article make me sad for the human race.

    I’m from the south born and raised, and I wanted to be naive too, guys. I grew up thinking that only older people were racist because of the “generation gap.”

    I heard students and FRIENDS say things like “Oh but you’re not like other black girls” or “I don’t really see you as a black person.” And I chose not to take offense, even though deep down I knew those comments weren’t quite right.

    The fact of the matter is, if you need to start defending it and justifying it, maybe you should be thinking about what is REALLY going on. The older I got, the harder it was to be naive and say “Oh but that isn’t really THAT racist.” It’s racist. Period. I don’t believe that there is a degree to racism. I don’t believe that if someone treats you terribly, it allows you to show racist behavior or state racist remarks toward that person. And I know from living in the south that the past is not always the past. I’ve seen young people, both white and black, argue with each other over the use of the confederate flag, or the song “Dixie” or “Affirmative Action”. Our entire school was divided when I was only 15 years old because of things that happened well in the past.

    It’s not just a generation thing. And it’s not “well she didn’t INTEND to be racist so it’s okay.” It’s the south, and it will never change as long as people keep justifying it.

  7. I find it very strange that no one commenting seems to see the racism here. She wanted (and presumable had) a plantation wedding for her son with all black servers. At no point does she seem to even consider it would look bad, let alone is bad. The fact that she may have used the n-word in regards to the man who held a gun to her head is besides the point, the point is she has said it many times in the past and seems pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. The fact that she wants to theme, what for many is considered the biggest day of their (or in this case their son’s) life, after the civil war era south including the racism of the time is clearly racist. Yes she is a product of her generation and is ignorant as hell, but it doesn’t excuse the racism.

  8. It doesn’t seem like the majority of the comments here have been made by visible minorities. I’m a black, Canadian woman. Reading Paula Deen’s comments hurt me. Hearing or reading the N-word always feels like someone is punching me in the stomach, no matter to whom the slur is directed or the situation. I have a few questions:
    -It’s okay for her to refer to a bad black person, or a slave using the N-word? –Because she is an older woman she is allowed to be ignorant even though we are all living in the year 2013?
    -So what exactly is the difference between a black person and a ‘N”?
    -Why is okay for someone to say the word in my presence and I should just mind my own business.

    There’s no way you can compare the impact of the N-word to that of “redneck”. And I would never have a gathering to recreate a time in history in which a certain group was discriminated against because it was quaint. I’ve never seen a wedding where white Irish servitude was recreated.

    I obviously have a very different perspective as I’m one of the few people here who’s actually been called the N-word. I’m already over the Paula Deen comments. It’s the reactions of the commentators here that make me shake my head.

  9. There is no evidence in this that Paula Deen is racist, or that she uses the n word to describe black people. She specifically said she did NOT use the n word and that the black servers were very professional. Whoever wrote this needs to learn to read. You say that Paula has no problem using the n word, yet proof of this is not in the transcript.

  10. Well, first off, if you are getting your news sourced from the National Enquirer you need to stop writing blogs and turn off your computer.

    Secondly, the lawyer had an agenda, to make Ms. Dean look racist, he hammered at her trying to force her to say something racist. He even went so far as to make the false equivalency that Ms. Dean’s favoring of a southern-style wedding meant she was racist. I know a lot of girls, both white and black, who would love such a wedding.. The dresses and the period look are lovely. Doesn’t mean I want a return to slavery.

    Thirdly, if a black man stuck a gun to my head, the “N” word would be the least of the things going through my mind. It was a traumatic event and you think, and even say things you wouldn’t otherwise.

    So in my mind, Ms. Dean is innocent of the allegations thrown at her.

  11. This whole thing just pisses me off. I see NOTHING in all of this that would make Paula Deen a racist. Obviously there are certain parts of this deposition that have been cut out in order to paint Paula in a bad light.

    I abhor racism in all its facets. I also abhor people that use it as an excuse to pursue monetary gain, and the people that support that use.

    Everyone just needs to mind their business and let be. Stop looking for racism in every person. They should try looking at themselves first. How can you tell if someone is racist? If you believe they are racist, they will be. What’s the saying? It takes one to know one!

  12. My grandfather is southern. When I was younger and my son was quite young (and a repeater) I noticed that my grandfather used language that I realized was racist. I asked him to stop and had to remind him a few times, as it was part of his vernacular. While I would agree that his language could not be considered anything but racially offensive, I knew, I always knew that he was not really a racist. He did not think less of people based on anything. Color, heritage, religion, sexuality, anything. He was always a lover of people, born of a time that we cannot even wrap our heads around. He was a farmer and had a great deal of Hispanic friends who he cares for dearly to this day. I think it is amazing that we have made a change in todays society to try and guard our words as to not hurt each other. I just think we should be a little less hard on the older folks who were raised to speak very differently, especially if it is just words and their actions reflect their loving spirits.

  13. When writing things like this article you need to look at the generation she grew up in. My parents were a part of that generation. I personally hate that word because I understand the true context of it (there is even a college course on philosophy of race where I learned more details than I knew). This was a word she grew up with…I am not saying it is right…just saying it is part of that generation’s language. BUT black men call each other that all the time not understanding the word. So are they all racists against each other because no matter how it is said it is derogatory?! When a black person calls a white person redneck they are profiling white people in a derogatory light. I was raised in the city but now live out in the middle of nowhere. When I tell people where I live they laugh and say I live in the land of rednecks. How is that not derogatory? When the true meaning of redneck came from farmers and ranchers that would be outside working would get the back of their necks red from being in the sun so much. These were true working class men and it has now become something different. It just frustrates me that the media (and yes you have become a part of that group by writing this article) only reports the sensational part of conversations. What other instances has she been “racist”?

  14. Am I the only person who thinks that the reason she might not have been feeling “favorable” towards the man in question is because he was apparently POINTING A GUN AT HER HEAD? I can honestly say that would make me feel unfavorable toward someone, no matter what race they are.

    And the intial report was in The National Enquirer? Because really, they aren’t known for being sensationalistic, blowing things out of proportion, and even reporting outright lies.

    She said that she hasn’t used the word in a long time/doesn’t use it any more. No matter what the reason, that’s definitely a good thing. It means she’s sensitive to the culture that she’s currently living it.

    We also have to take into consideration the generational gap and cultural differences. Living in the south is definitely different from other areas of the country.

    Without knowing the particulars of the case, it’s really difficult to say whether she is a racist or whether there has just been a misunderstanding. But I (a) wouldn’t believe everything you read and (b) wouldn’t jump straight to the conclusion based on the above that your beloved Paula Deen is a racist.

    • Exactly!! All these people that just jumped on the “She’s a racist” bandwagon need to take a closer look at themselves and the circumstances before passing judgement. In my experience, most of the people I have met that claim someone is a racist are secretly racist themselves. (I say MOST, not ALL) This is a serious epidemic in our culture. Too many people are so quick to rush in to the “Racist” judgment that they fail to look at the circumstances surrounding the issue.

    • Exactly! I forgot to mention that SHE HAD A GUN POINTED AT HER HEAD at one point. If that happened to me, I’m sure many unsavory words would’ve come out of my mouth.

  15. To use the term racist is a bit extreme…..but ignorance on the other hand, that word is spot on. This is a time to use her ignorance as a teachable moment instead of a time to finger point and call her a Racist. Just a thought – she could go ahead and own her ignorance, apologize, and move forward with educating future generations! Much love for Paula Deen and this blog – great work. xo’s

  16. As a woman who was formerly married to a black man, let me tell you that YES, there is a difference between an average black person and a “N”; just like there is a difference between an average white person and a “redneck” or “white trash”.
    Not all white people are “rednecks” or “white trash” and not all black people are “N”.
    the difference is, white people are afraid to admit it and black people don’t want you to throw that word around, so its in everyones best interest to stay scared.
    The racist part comes in if you have chosen to call an entire race or culture by those words.

    • I’m also not suggesting that you ever use the “N” word, but we are all welcome to think whatever we want, but its probably best we keep those thoughts to ourselves.
      I can also see why some of the things that Paula Deen suggested would be questionable, and -maybe- she didn’t use the “N” word, but given the time frame she was pulling inspiration from, it was simply in bad taste. We all do things in bad taste from time to time; maybe not on such a huge scale and not in the public eye, regardless…she will have her day in court to decide all that.

  17. well nothing she has said here has made me think she was racist… o_0 it seems a bit over the top to say she was…

  18. No. Never.

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