If there’s something that Paula Deen loves more than butter, it’s black waiters serving wedding guests “Southern plantation style.” At least that’s the takeaway from the unedited transcript of her deposition in the $1.2 million discrimination lawsuit filed against the First Lady of Finger Lickin’ Food and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers. In her testimony, Deen admits to using the N-word, reveals her ambivalence towards people watching pornography at a place of work, and—the arguably racist, definitely bizarre bit that’s made headlines Wednesday—details the Southern plantation wedding of her dreams, in which black waiters serve guests slave-style.
It’s a fascinating and, despite its subject matter, often humorous read brimming with Paula Deenisms. (She uses the phrase “ah-ha” so often instead of “yes” during questioning that she has to be reprimanded and instructed to respond only with “yes” or “no.” She doesn’t.) It’s also 133 pages. Fear not, we’ve parsed the most salacious details for you. Happy reading, y’all.
1. She refused to have her empire destroyed by “a piece of pussy.” (Also, she uses that word!)Former employee Lisa Jackson said that she was hired to replace a general manager at the restaurant Uncle Bubba’s who was fired for having sexual relationships with underage servers. While demanding the manager be fired, Jackson says that Deen told her brother, “If you think I have worked this hard to lose everything because of a piece of pussy, you better think again.” Asked in her deposition whether she actually said it, Deen responded with an abso-friggin-lutely: “I said that day and I would say it again today if it applied.” She then repeated the sentence, making not being in that room a regret we’ll all have to live with for the rest of our lives.
2. She really wanted to stage that Southern plantation-style wedding. But she didn’t because the media wouldn’t understand.Jackson said she was put in charge of arrangements for Bubba’s wedding, which Deen apparently said she wanted to have a “true Southern plantation-style theme.” What, pray tell, does that mean? “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n----rs 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 reportedly elaborated. Alas, the wedding Deen envisioned never came to be. “We can’t do that because the media would be on me about that,” she reportedly told Jackson. In her testimony, Deen said that she actually was referencing the “beautiful white jackets with a black bow-tie” she saw the wait staff of “middle-aged black men” wearing at a restaurant she visited “in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere.”
3. She did not use the N-word to describe the waiters.Deen objected to the accusation that she used the N-word to describe the waiters. Asked whether there was any possibility that she may have slipped and use the word, she said, “No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.” Still, when asked why nicely dressed black men would be a part of a “Southern plantation wedding,” she said it reminded her of southern America “before the Civil War.” After being reminded that black men serving people in the South before the Civil War were slaves, she agreed, but said she “did not mean anything derogatory” by her comments.
4. She doesn't think that watching porn or being racist at work makes you a bad boss.In her deposition, Deen was asked whether the fact that her brother admitted to watching pornography and using the N-word at their restaurant caused her to have concerns about him running their business. She responded, “just because he’s got a sense of humor does not make him a bad person or incapable of running a business.” Questioned as to whether jokes of a sexual or racist nature are in poor taste at a place of work, she responded, “We have all told off-color jokes … Every man I’ve ever come in contact with has one.”
5. But she does use the N-word!Deen admitted to using the N-word in her life, after a “black man” put a gun to her head at a bank where she was working. She said she used it because she “didn’t feel real favorable towards him.” She also said she’s sure she’s used the word since, “but it’s been a very long time” and guessed that she probably used it when quoting “a conversation between blacks.”
6. She doesn’t think the N-word is bad, as long as it’s used in a joke. Deen said that she and her husband taught her children not to use the N-word in a mean way. Asked when exactly that word be used in a not-mean way, she said either when repeating what you may hear “black people” say in the kitchen or when used in a joke.
7. She sees nothing wrong with watching a little porn at work. A major point in the suit is that Deen’s brother, Bubba, was accused of looking at pornography at work and showing it to employees. Asked whether she has any problem with such practices, Deen said, “If somebody sent him something and he pulled it up and looked at it, no, I would not persecute him for that.”
8. Her bathroom sounds amazing. Deen’s bathroom has a sofa and two chairs in it. She calls it a “bathroom/den combination.” That’s not particularly salacious. But it’s definitely intriguing.