Paula Deen tried to address the sensitive subjects of slavery and race relations in a recent head-scratching interview in a way that likely won’t be helpful to the her damage control efforts.
The interview with the former Food Network diva just showed up on the media radar although it actually took place in October 2012 in New York City. See clips embedded above.
As everyone knows, he celebrity chef was axed by the Food Network late Friday afternoon when an announcement came down that her expiring contract would not be renewed. Deen has been engulfed in controversy as a result of a lawsuit filed by former employee Lisa Jackson who accused Deen and her brother of sexual harassment and using racial slurs while she worked as manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga. The revelations emerged as a result of deposition transcripts in the case.
In a wide-ranging discussion that focused mostly on other topics with New York Times reporter Kim Severson, Deen described how her great grandfather –- who apparently owned 30 or more slaves in the Antebellum South -– was devastated by the end of the Civil War and committed suicide. “He had lost his son, he had lost the war; he didn’t know how to deal with life with no one to help operate his plantation… Between the death of his son and losing all the workers, he went out… into his barn and shot himself because he couldn’t deal with those kind of changes.”
Although Deen deemed abolition a “terrific change,” she said in an apparent reference to slavery that “I feel like the south is almost less prejudiced because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family.”
Deen added that race relations in the south are “pretty good… but it will take a long, long time for [racism] to be completely gone.. if it will ever be gone…We’re all prejudiced against one something or another. I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel.”
Things got really awkward when she brought up one of her trusted staff members who she described as “black as this board” in reference to the backdrop on the stage behind her. “We can’t see you standing in front of that dark board!” Deen felt the need to quip.
“I love this young man; I would travel to hell with him, and I know I can trust him with my life, and color ain’t got nothing to do with it,” Deen declared.
Do you think Paula Deen would have been far better “served” to just concentrate on talking about and demonstrating southern cooking? The entire interview can be found here. Watch and draw your own conclusions.