Comfort food chef Paula Deen is becoming a rather tragic figure; first she carves out a brand for herself slinging butter-laden southern delicacies, then she announces that she’s had diabetes for years and will become a paid spokesperson for a diabetes drug, and now she and her brother are being sued for sexual harassment and some racist requests that are even more colorful than her contemporary Sandra Lee’s nasty looking Kwanzaa cake.
Lisa Jackson was general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia, of which Paula and her brother Bubba Hiers are co-owners. Jackson alleges that during her 2005-2010 employment at the restaurant Hiers inundated her and the rest of the staff with pornography and misogynistic insults — for example, visiting sex websites at the job and “forgetting” to log off, asking her to bring in sexy photos of herself, and making dirty jokes about oral sex that Frugivore and CLUTCH are too classy to repeat (and so specific that it’s hard to believe that Ms. Jackson made them up herself just to malign him).
But the part that intrigues me are the accusations of racism, which include the claim that Hiers frequently used the n-word and that Paula Deen made an especially racist request when Jackson asked her what the attire for a 2007 event should be:
“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n***ers 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… 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.”
What troubles me about these alleged remarks is that they are so easy to imagine coming out of Paula Deen’s mouth and therefore she must have made them, yet they’re so easy to imagine coming out of her mouth that she probably didn’t. Not to break out the violins for white southern women, but combine Deen’s new reputation as a liar with the the persistent stereotype of white southerners all being racist and you have a very believable lawsuit targeting both Deen and Hiers. Let’s hope that Ms. Jackson gets justice for what ultimately sounds like a pretty uncomfortable work environment.
Read more here.