Paula Deen and Savannah
I believe the charges that Paula Deen’s former high-level employee, Lisa Jackson, has leveled against the celebrity chef and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers.
I believe Jackson saw a whole lot of racism in Deen’s and Bubba’s restaurants. I’m from Savannah. This is how Savannah rolls and why so many blacks, especially professionals who don’t want to teach or preach, leave.
I read parts of Jackson’s lawsuit last year, when it was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Her main target is Bubba’s restaurant, set up in large part from my understanding, with the considerable loot Deen has made as a big-time TV cook. Jackson ran Bubba’s place as manager. I can see the black workers being made to use the back door only, as Jackson claims. I can certainly see the refusal to promote black employees or the decision “to hide” the black hostesses, and the open reference to the kitchen staff, mostly black, as “monkeys.” I can see Paula herself casually referring to blacks as “n****rs.”
“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n****s 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, according to Jackson, 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.” In her deposition, Deen admitted to using the word herself but not in a pejorative way. I guess that means saying it when no n*****s are around to report it.
A little background: Paula’s in her mid-sixties. She grew up poor near Albany, Georgia, a city Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called one of the most racist he’d ever encountered during his travails to bring the South into modernity. And King protested in places such as Mississippi, whose obstinacy singer Nina Simone famously labeled with the expletive “god-damn.” Deen’s Savannah restaurant is a destination for many tourists, and tourists spend money in other local businesses while in the vicinity. To bring her down would hurt Savannah, too. There’s a lot at economic stake here.
But if things were so bad for Jackson, why did she stay on for five years? Here’s the probable rejoinder: She made good money. Savannah’s not loaded with high-paying jobs—not even for white former managers like Jackson. Jackson is largely claiming sexual discrimination against Bubba, mostly his alleged downloading of porn in an office they shared but also for “chasin’ her for tail.” But what about the reported $1.2 million Jackson seeks? Well, she’s certainly not the first to seek money in a, well, lawsuit.
An official for the Food Network, on which Paula’s popular show is viewed, was quoted as saying that the network is against all types of bias and that it “will continue to monitor the situation.” That don’t sound too good for Paula if Jackson wins, huh? But wait. Pull up a seat, ladies and germs. I understand Oprah and Paula are buds. How will that unfold, “suga”?