Paula Deen Comments Fuel Fire of Controversy
A new Paula Deen video tape is causing an uproar. It was shot eight months ago as the celebrity chef took center stage, along with her dog Lulu, at an event hosted by The New York Times.
One of the topics was Deen's appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? On the NBC show, she visited a large plantation once owned by her great, great, great, great grandfather who owned 35 slaves.
In the New York Times video, Deen celebrated the abolition of slavery, saying, "They were terrific changes."
But she also offered this explanation of the pre-Civil War South: "Black folk played such integral part of our lives, they were like our family. We didn't see ourselves as being prejudiced," said Deen. "I think we're all prejudiced against one something or another. I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel."
But things got really awkward when Deen referenced a black man who worked for her.
"He's black as that board. Stand up, Hollis. We can't see you standing against that dark board," said Deen.
Uncomfortable laughter filled the room.
Aisha Tyler said on The Talk, "She clearly doesn't understand what's appropriate and what's inappropriate when it comes to referring to race."
Today there's surprising support for the embattled chef, whose contract is not being renewed by the Food Network.
Comedian Bill Maher came to Deen's defense on his HBO show, saying, "People shouldn't have to lose their shows and go away when they do something bad. It's just a word. It's a wrong word. She was wrong to use it."
But journalist Bob Herbert said the Food Network did the right thing by dumping Deen when Maher asked, "Do we always have to make people go away?"
"If they use that word? Yeah," said Herbert.
Outside Deen's Savannah restaurant, people turned out in droves, lining up for tables.
One African-American woman told a reporter, "Was it right? No. I mean, she could have used another term. But hey, it was a mistake that she made."
Another African-American woman said, "I think it's a learning lesson for her and it's a learning lesson for the people who do forgive. So, I will forgive her."
Deen's loyal fans are taking to Facebook. The page "We Support Paula Deen" has more than 289,000 likes.