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June 21st, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Pastor friend says Paula Deen can't be a racist

SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) – The Food Network announced Friday that it will not renew the contract of Paula Deen after she admitted using a racial epithet – but a black pastor who is friends with the celebrity chef said she "can't be a racist."

Deen apologized Friday for "the wrong that I've done," a move that follows revelations this week that she admitted saying the N-word.

But Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr. from First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, defended Deen to WTOC, a CNN affiliate.

"I know her," Tyson said. "My children have been to her house. I've been to her house, I've sat on her furniture. I've been all through her house. What racist would let a black man walk all through her house?"

Tyson also said he is pastor to Hollis Johnson - the black man who manages much of Deen's affairs, travels everywhere with her, owns a successful limo company with a fleet of cars that Deen helped finance.

"She is a mother to him, a mother figure," Tyson said.

"People are going to jump on it and believe what they want to believe and add what they want to add," said Tyson. "But one thing I can sit here today and look you in the face and tell you is that woman can't be a racist."

"She can't have a heart against black people with all that she had done, and all she continues to do," Tyson continued.

"That is why I'm here with you today to be a character witness for miss Paula Deen because she is a beautiful person, a beautiful spirit."

Asked what he thinks about Deen's admission that she has used the N-word, Tyson said, "Who hasn't?"

"That's what you want in a person, to be honest," he continued. "She stood up and and confessed and made the point that she did use the word.  Who hasn't? That doesn't make her a racist. Would a racist gives thousands of dollars to an organization that helps black boys?"

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Black issues • Celebrity • Christianity • Discrimination • Food • Race

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soundoff (491 Responses)
  1. tiki jones

    I am 55 and my parents raised me to not say that word. I did say it and got my face slapped and my mouth washed out with soap. I was in my teens when I last said it. So the excuse she was born in a different time is pure BS! I am just 5 years younger than PD.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      So uttering a word warrants torturing of a child? Your parents sound like the horrible ones.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  2. jargonwhat

    Are we forgetting the part where she wanted to dress up her black waiters as slaves?

    June 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Yeah, but she's paying for their service so it's up to her what costumes they wear.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      To be waiter is nothing less than a slave, paid less than minimum wage and dependent on some ones generosity to make living. Not just blacks but every one, including slave s ex workers. Give your self a break from N ism, ignorance ism, or to be correct, secular ism, self center ism.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • rh

      Dressing women up in demeaning costumes seems to be okay though.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  3. Goaty McCheese

    Can you imagine Ernest Hemingway or Mark Twain or Ken Kesey having to answer for their work in today's mediot world? They'd be screwed.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      They are of the gone by time, and blacks have been fully free for last 60 years, no need to baby sit hinduism, racism of hind old times. word N meant never to be black, but hinduism, ignorance of a person, and it applies to any one, at any time.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  4. 111Dave111

    Lots of House M onkeys like "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that", "Doug", "Mauieast", "Frank", "Charlie", "ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION", & "JT"

    June 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      I assure you, I was never in servitute (or slavery) at a wealthy white person's mansion.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  5. CJ

    The only ACTUAL recorded time of her using it was when someone put a gun to her head. At this point, the other instances are baseless accusations. I think that, due to the poignancy of the word and the severity of the situation, it was the most expressive way of her saying her feelings – this black man's got a gun to my head, so what can I say to express my shock as well as insult him?

    June 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Doug

      Must I read another comment that lumps white people from the south into a group or racists? I'm tired of that ignorant talk.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Doug

      My comment was for "Larry L" but this chat stuff is jacked up.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Yeah, like in Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's character (Jimmy) could be excused for using the term n.igger, as there was a dead one with his brains blown out in his garage.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Larry L

      Doug – you are correct. Certainly everybody in the South isn't a racist and progress has been made in that area. Still, you must admitt the Rebel Flag is honored in that region – even knowing how offensive it is to African Americans. It's not about "Southern Heritage" – it's about racism. Most of the Southern states had to be forced from segregation with some only recently officially accepting the laws. Political rallies in that area continue to include racist signs and slogans and African Americans still face tremendous challenges in the political arena. Look at the KKK memberships and although they have chapters in other locations, the South remains their stronghold. I was raised by under-educated East Texas racists and never heard anything but the "N-word" to describe our neighbors. That is still the prefered term in white circles and segregation is informal – but very real. The stereotyping of Southern people is unfair to some extent – but deserved in many ways.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  6. Larry L

    Public figures must understand their words have consequences. Most of us have used hateful terms but folks who make a living based on their popularity are held to a higher standard. Paula may have evolved away from the culture of whites in the South but her words come back to haunt her. It may not be "fair" but that's the way that game is played. She's rich and will get along just fine.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Yeah Yeah

      Larry, your post oozes with stupidity. Well done.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Dippy

      Actually, Larry's post oozes with truth and honesty. I wish I had made it.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  7. R.M. Goodswell

    This will never be over....its an endless gold mine for the media. 2 full generations have been born since the 60s ....I wasn't alive during the civil rights marches.. My great grand kids will probably STILL be dealing with this issue...Racism is pure gold..with the side benefit of keeping the average folk divided...the elites laugh their asses off at that.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Larry L

      I'll try to help you expand your hate to new levels...

      To: ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      It was invented by Baptist slave owners known for their small man-parts and inability to understand the phrase "pick your own fu#k!ng cotton fat boy!". They mostly used the versatile ABW-word (Anything But White) because they pretty much hate anybody with any measurable level of skin pigmentation. They also hated people of other religions (the OR-word) – choosing to degrade their neighbors rather than actually practice the tenets of their own religious doctrine."

      Does this help?

      June 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • rh

      It will get better, and the N-wordd will disappear. Then another word will take its place. Don't matter if you call someone N-wordd or Sir, it's how you treat them. Same thing with calling women beeches or hoes. Is it always misogynistic to call a woman a sluht? Then why all the hubbub about N-wordds if women can be discriminated against no problem?

      June 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  8. N word

    Call me, you know

    June 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  9. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

    No matter what, political correctness will never stop me using the term porch m.onkey. Porch M.onkey 4 Life.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Dippy

      What's a porch monkey? Like an outdoor couch potato?

      June 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      In a sense, although people often attach racial connotations to it.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Dippy

      Thanks. I think I get it now.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  10. nestor

    Hey. The network cares little about what she had said in the past. Its a business decision people. Due that she wasn't getting the ratings that she had, due to her admission that she was sick. They decided not to renew her contract. that's all This came on their laps just in time. Please lets not be so candid. Im a Pastor too.

    I

    June 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      "PleasePlease lets not be so candid. Im a Pastor too."

      Is that general pastor code?

      June 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Double whammy there.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  11. sly

    See ya fool. When making a lot of money in America's great capitalist economy, one shouldn't make big mistakes. She is a Southern fat racist, very common, I'm sure not surprised. But come on lady, don't try to slime out of it – you are a big girl and you say what you mean, like everyone.

    Oh well, there goes some millions. Next.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Yeah, let's ban words.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Doug

      Sly, you are a moron, next!

      June 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  12. JT

    I find this all silly. I do like Paula the person but detest her cooking. Still, this whole thing is being blown way out of proportion. If the media hadn't made this a story in the first place (which it shouldn't have been), Food Network wouldn't have worried about firing her.

    We have ZERO context for the incidence in which she used the word. It could have been a small conversation among close friends. And she was at a deposition, meaning she was under oath! She felt obligated to hide nothing. Who among us, if we have to be TOTALLY honest could admit to never using a racial slur with any audience ever? Very few, I imagine.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Truth seeker

      You use the N word because you are a racist bigoted pig. You can discipline your stupid kid anither way. Grow the hell up. We're on to you.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Marion

      This was not only about Paula Deen using the N word. I is about a black employee who is suing her for her treatment and her firing of her. Look into the details of the case.....very little to do with Deen using the n word....a lot more to it.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • Rhia

      I agree with you JT. This was in a deposition for a court case that hasnt been tried yet. This little piece of her depo was released to the media by the lawyers of the plaintiff. It is intended to do the damage it has. People, being the dishonest, judgmental hypocrites they are, are so q

      June 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Rhia

      I agree with you JT. This was in a deposition for a court case that hasnt been tried yet. This little piece of her depo was released to the media by the lawyers of the plaintiff. It is intended to do the damage it has. People, being dishonest, judgmental hypocrites, are so quick to place shame. I applaud this pastor that has said she may have used an offensive word but she is a good person. Ms. Deen deserves forgiveness and not persecution. I think the Food Network should at least wait until the outcome of this trial to take such extreme action. Thanks for posting your comment, JT.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  13. Frank

    Good for this man. Atleast some people here have common sense.

    June 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  14. Edwin PILLAY

    AS A SOUTH AFRICAN I DO NOT THINK MANY AMERICANS WILL ADMIT TO BEING RACIST,DID YOU WITNESSED WHAT HAPPEN WHEN OBAMA RAN AGAINST THE CLINTONS AND THEY WERE LIBERALS.I LOVE THIS COUNTRY BUT WE HAVE ALONG WAY TO GO.GOOD LUCK AMERICA.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Dippy

      Do they type in all caps in South Africa? Turn off your caps lock, please.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  15. STFU

    too little, too late pastor, she is out.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  16. Charlie

    Paula was honest on the stand. I love the fact that the pastor said "who hasn't said it?" Concerning the N word. Political correctness has gone crazy. The country is nuts and Food Network acted too quickly and overreacted in my opinion. Certainly won't be watching that channel any longer. She and a very few others are the only reason I watched it anyway.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Marion

      Who hasn't said it?? the last time I used the word I was 14 years old and my mom slapped my face in public. I never used it again.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  17. Karen Allison

    Who hasn't ever used that term, Pastor Tyson?

    Me.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      So, I've never used the term "Please waiter, my exploding niplets are hungry for a hydrant of love munching".

      June 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Frank

      Wow, that makes you a saint then, right?

      June 21, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Frank

      and exactly how old are you karen? keep in mind the woman were talking about is over 60 and the world was a much different place 50 years ago.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Karen Allison

      Of course I am not perfect, but I stand by my comment. To excuse a person's offensive behavior by implying that "everybody does it" is simply wrong. Paula Deen is a public figure who is suffering the natural consequences of a poor choice. As a private citizen I am also accountable for my words. Her wealth and celebrity do not let her off the hook.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Karen Allison

      Not quite as old as Paula, Frank, but my teenagers think I'm ancient!

      June 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  18. Mauieast

    I have a circle of black friends, which has enlightened me to the fact that sometimes black people use the "N" word to denote someone they don't think highly of. Sort of when others might say "so-and so's daughter married some low-life from the west side", they have used the "N" word instead. The first time I heard that I was very surprised. Also, in the song, "Gold Digger" the artist uses the word to refer jokingly to himself. I don't know in what context Paula Deen used the word, but the Food Network seems to be going too far in cancelling her show for something she said in her private life. Apparently, Paula has good friends of all races who have never found her to be a racist.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Karen Allison

      Food Network didn't fire her because she used an offensive word in her private life. They fired her because her words are now in the public sphere, and she has become a liability.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  19. srichardson2012

    I dont care how many black friend's she has , when you make racist comments you are a bigot. I hate black southerners who apologize for white southerners, and are so eager to just get along when whites put their foot in their mouth.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      You just said you hate black Southerners. RACIST! BIGOT!!! I'm going to find out where you are employed and demand your immediate dismissal.

      June 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Doug

      She me the comment decades ago, against a man who put a gun to her head.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Frank

      read the article retard.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Marion

      Many a southern racist (northern racists too) have welcomed "blacks" in their home only to disparage them behind their backs when they depart. Don' t let the facade fool you.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      I do that about everybody who enters my home.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  20. Miss Chocolate Mom

    It's time we finally get serious about deleting N words.

    Can Obama pardon her this time?

    June 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Philip

      What a stupid comment.

      June 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.