Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Think Paula Deen's Getting A Raw Deal? “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.”

Paula Deen laughed and said “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it?  But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

The media accounts that I've seen on Paula Deen have focused on her admitting to long ago having said 'the N word' but that she really means no harm and she isn't a racist.  There's been sympathy for Deen losing so many business deals over this.  As though what she did was long ago, and simply reflected the culture she grew up with in the deep South. Today, she would have us believe, she is horrified at what she had done long ago and so very sorry.  Given that context, the many businesses cutting ties with her may seem extreme.    I decided to hold off writing about this until more came out.

StoneKettle blog had a link to the court documents from At Law blog listing numerous alleged instances of sexual, racial, and other discriminatory behavior at Paula Deen's businesses.  It's a PDF document I can't cut and paste from.

Although these are allegations, it's hard to imagine someone making up so many, so specific incidents and getting them this far in the legal process without their being some basis to them.  As much as people claim that there are false claims of racial and sexual discrimination and harassment,  these go way beyond simple or isolated incidents.  There are other court documents that were already up on Scribed, but in this one the allegations are clearly spelled out.

It is truly shocking to imagine that people are putting up with such behavior at work today.

Here are a few of the allegations, and I'm only picking a few and restricting my selection to racial discrimination, not sexual.   The point is to expose the timidity of the media in their handling of this case.

Note:  Bubba Hiers is Paula Deen's brother and the locations are all businesses under the Paula Deen business empire.
"52.  At Uncle Bubba’s restaurant, African-American staff persons are required to use the back entrance for all purposes, including picking up their checks.  they were prohibited from using the front entrance.

53.  African-American staff persons at Uncle Bubba’s restaurant are required to use one restroom that is in the back of the restaurant and is not the customer restroom.  White staff was allowed to use the customer bathroom.

55.  Ms. Jackson hired two African-American hostesses.  Their position required them to be stationed in the front of the restaurant.  Bubba Hiers complained repeatedly about one hostess being out front and she was later fired for allegedly stealing a white customer’s purse.  The police were called and the young woman was searched, but she was not arrested and no charges were brought.  Mr. Hiers demanded that the other African-American hostess be moved to a position in the back of the restaurant where she could not be seen by customers.

56a.  Ms. Jackson was meeting with a vendor in her office at Uncle Bubba’s restaurant when Bubba Hiers entered the office and slammed the door behind him, stating “I wish I could put all those niggers [in the kitchen] on a boat to Africa.” 
56c.  In Ms. Jackson’s presence Bubba Hiers said to his African-American security guard and driver, “don’t you wish you could rub all the black off you and be like me?”  the security guard responded, “I’m fine the way I am,” whereupon Mr. Hiers replied that ”you just look dirty, I bet you wish you could.” 
56e  In the presence of a vendor who traps wildlife (e.g., raccoons) and Ms. Jackson, Bubba Hiers stated, “you also got a bunch of coons in this kitchen you can trap.”  The kitchen was primarily staffed with African-Americans.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here's the whole list which I found through  Stonekettle, who linked to At Law which had a link to the document which I put on Scribed so you could see it.  The allegations start at page 4. 


  1. Wow. When one company after another dropped her it didn't make sense - now it does.

    1. A bit of trouble with posting my comment - sorry to have to post in the reply section.

      Thanks, Steve, for providing this post.

      I assumed it had to be a bit more than she was stating. Wonder how long Food Network has, honestly, known of this?

      What started as this down-home, country girl working hard, making it big, taking care of her boys has evolved into such an ugly mess - so very, very disappointing.

  2. Good example of how one loses touch with one's birth country after moving away -- haven't heard of this story here (minor reporting). If it is a major story in the states, then local news-feeds really do shape how we can and will view the world.

    In nearly seven years here, I can say I've lost contact with idiom changes in the USA, the countless television shows that are current and hot, the entertainers whose lives are so critical to knowing the world (cough), and all the things that we repeat at the gossip fence.

    Yes, I read Alaska press, online this and that and subscribe to IHT; I read several news-compilers but it isn't the same as being there, even in this networked world we live in. Stories are local in the sense of how we respond to them and gather our impressions of value placed on them -- context does have power to shape relevance.

    It's one way the world remains big and separated. I would think, too, that this is why there are barriers in how we can understand the world locally. That said, I believe trying is still better than not making the effort at all.

  3. This is the first place that I've seen mention of the wider picture. It has been in Paula Deen's interest to focus on having said the "n-word" only once decades ago. It made her seem sympathetic to her followers. And she certainly did not want to draw attention to the workplace culture problems which are the whole point of the litigation. What I haven't been able to understand is why her lawyers did not recommend that she settle early and with confidentiality agreements. And then, obviously, fix up the workplace problems.

    I am sure that The Food Network's attorneys looked at the matter from every possible angle and scrutinized her deposition testimony and that of everyone else who has been deposed in the case very carefully. In this day and age, I do not think decisions to drop a celebrity or the celebrity's product lines are made rashly or easily.

  4. Sounds like Uncle Bubba is even worse than his sister, doesn't it? Where is the backlash at him? Their whole 'empire' needs to go away.

  5. Thanks all for your comments. Shari, I too wondered at first. Anon, I had actually never heard of Deen before all this. They say any coverage is good, but I think there are exceptions.
    Jacob - Interesting point about what stays local and what goes global. Hadn't considered that aspect in this case. There were some other news items that week, like Mandela's health, Voting Rights and Gay Marriage Supreme Court decisions . . .
    Anon - your point about why they didn't settle is also interesting. I'd guess some of it was just a power thing - Bubba wasn't going to let a woman manager (there's a lot about women not being paid as much as men or having positions of power in the restaurants, ironic given the CEO is a woman) win and I suspect that Paula's just gone along with her brother all this time that she did this time too. It may also reflect their cluelessness about how the rest of the world sees this.
    Sally, Bubba is your worst white southern male nightmare if the allegations are even half true. But she doesn't appear to be any angel either, but she has a better sense about appearances.

  6. I read portions of the transcript of her deposition in this matter and that is all I needed to know that this was not simply a matter of her using the n word in her youth. She has allowed a hostile environment to grow in her businesses, ignoring the antics and words of her brother. In her deposition she flatly stated that the racist jokes told by her brother, her husband, and others did not and still do not bother her. I have no sympathy for her at all. The ONLY reason she now acts contrite is because her empire is suffering. One reaps what one sows and she's been sowing some bad seeds for many years from what I have read. I will happily support any business that cancels their contract with her.

  7. Linda, I'm pretty cautious about concluding what other people were thinking, but after reading legal documents, I think you sum it up pretty well.


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