NEW YORK, June 26 U.S. celebrity chef Paula
Deen, under fire after she admitted using a racial slur, said in
a tearful TV interview on Wednesday that she is not a racist and
would never intentionally hurt anyone.
The Southern food doyenne said in an interview on NBC's "The
Today Show" that it was important for her to tell "everyone out
there what I believe and how I live my life."
When asked if she felt she had racist tendencies she
It was her first TV interview since The Food Network said
last Friday it would drop her show after she was sued for racial
discrimination and admitted in a legal deposition to using a
racial slur in the past.
Deen, who has built a business empire that includes
cookbooks, restaurants and kitchen supplies, said she was raised
in a home where her father would not tolerate unkindness to
anyone or bad behavior.
The controversy surrounding Deen erupted last week when a
deposition was released in transcript form in which Deen, who is
white, was asked if she had used the "N-word," and responded,
"Yes, of course." The "N-word" is a euphemism for "nigger," an
epithet for black people.
Asked about the epithet in the deposition, Deen said she had
used the slur when describing, probably to her husband, how a
black man robbed a bank where she was working in the 1980s. She
said she had used the word since, "but it's been a very long
In Wednesday's interview, she recalled the bank robbery and
said: "I had had a gun put to my head, a shakin' gun." She did
not give a full description of that incident.
She said: "As a child, I was raised in a home that my father
tolerated bad grades. He would tolerate ... maybe me breakin' a
curfew. But he told me, he said, 'Girl, if I ever find out that
you have behaved in a way where you think you're better than
others, or have been unkind, your butt is gonna be mine'."
DEEN SAYS SHE IS "HEARTBROKEN"
Deen said she was thankful for the support she has received,
and also heartbroken because she has had to comfort friends who
were distressed about things being said about her that she said
"If there's anyone out there that has never said something
that they wish they could take back, if you're out there, please
pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills
me. Please, I want to meet you. I want to meet you," she said,
The 66-year-old celebrity chef had called off a scheduled
interview with NBC on Friday to discuss the situation and
instead released a video defending herself.
The Food Network, which is owned by Scripps Network
Interactive Inc, later said it would not renew her
contract when it expired at the end of June.
Pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc also dropped Deen, who
had a name-brand line of hams with the company.
The controversy was sparked by the release of a deposition
which had been taken as part of a lawsuit in which Deen, who is
white, was asked if she had used the racial slur and she
responded, "Yes, of course."
The deposition related to a racial and sexual discrimination
lawsuit filed by a former employee, Lisa Jackson, who worked for
Paula Deen Enterprises.
The lawsuit alleges that, while discussing with Jackson
plans for Hiers' 2007 wedding, Deen said she wanted a "true
southern plantation-style 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," Deen said, according to the lawsuit.