Paula Deen’s sons are defending their mother from charges that she’s a racist.
The men, Bobby and Jamie Deen, said the media is mischaracterizing the extent of their mother’s use of the “n-word,” and that the stories resulting from her admission that she used the word amount to “character assassination.”
The two spoke out Tuesday morning when they appeared on CNN’s new morning show “New Day.”
“Our mother was under oath [and] asked in a deposition to pour over her entire life and to admit whether or not she had ever heard or used this word and it broke her heart to have to answer truthfully and say, yes that she had,” Bobby Deen is quoted as saying here on TheWrap.com. “But the important thing here is for people to know that that is not her heart …”
“We were raised in a family with love and of faith and a house where God lived,” he said. “And neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted towards any other person for any reason and this is so saddening to me because our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you’d ever meet. And these accusations are very hurtful to her and it’s very sad. And frankly, I’m disgusted by the entire thing because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination.”
Brother Jamie also talked about their upbringing in a southern household where racial prejudice was not evident, even when it came to baseball heroes such as Hank Aaron. His parents “told me that he’s a man of character, and the challenges that he overcame because of his color [were] unacceptable,” Jamie said. “This is a lesson that my mom and dad taught me when I was 7 years old, and it’s a lesson that I’ve carried throughout my life of inclusion and to treat everyone fairly and by their character and by their own merit. Under no circumstances should you ever judge anybody for any other reason.”
The boys felt the need to defend their mother because she’s been at the center of a firestorm after she admitted in a deposition that she has used the n-word in the past. The testimony was given under oath as part of a lawsuit brought by a former employee of one of her restaurants who accuses Deen of managing a workplace characterized by racism, sexism and “violent behavior.”
As a result of her admission, Food Network decided it won’t renew her contract. And she’s losing other business too, such as a lucrative endorsement deal with Smithfield meats.
Last week, Paula Deen ducked out of a planned appearance with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today Show,” a move that may have precipitated the Food Network’s decision to cut her loose. Since then, though, she has agreed to a “Today Show” appearance, now scheduled for Wednesday morning (June 26).