Television personality and celebrity chef, Paula Deen, has admitted to planning a slave themed wedding complete with an entire wait staff of black men and women.
Deen was being deposed as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit brought forward by former employee and manager of her Savannah, Georgia restaurant. Lisa Jackson was the manager of a restaurant run by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers.
The lawsuit alleges that Deen used the politically incorrect N-word at the restaurant and that Hiers sexually harassed Jackson.
Deen’s response to the question regarding the racial slur, “Yes, of course. It’s just what they are – they’re jokes… most jokes about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks… I can’t determine what offends another person.” (foxnews.com)
According to Jackson, Deen wanted her African-American employees to act as like slaves for a Civil War/slave themed wedding she was planning. However, Deen gives further details explaining that she actually got the idea from another restaurant where “That restaurant represented a certain era in America… after the Civil War, before the Civil War… It was not only black men, it was black women… I would say they were slaves.” (foxnews.com)
Deen went on to say that she felt the entire thing was “really impressive” and that the “entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tow.” (foxnews.com)
Hiers admitted that he has referred to President Obama using the racial slur.
Deen’s representatives have not responded.
While Deen’s comments may appear to be offensive to some, it is possible that taken out of context they are misunderstood. When explained, it makes sense that a Civil War themed wedding would include wait staff that resembles slaves.
When dining out at Mexican, Chinese, or Thai style restaurants, servers are typically from the same country as food they serve. It would seem unusual to order General’s Tso’s Chicken from a guy named Barry with a Mexican accent. Thinking that does not make me racist, it means I have a realistic view of the way our country likes to feel like a melting pot, but most people have a tendency to stay with people like them.
People tell jokes about everything from being blonde to sexually explicit jokes, religious jokes to racially charged jokes; some people find them offensive while others can let them roll off their shoulders or join in.
This is another of those occasions where it is difficult to tell if somebody was being far too sensitive or if Paula Deen planning a slavery themed wedding was going a bit too far.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist