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. brian

    It's funny how pastors are always attracted to people with money.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • albie

      how true – funny how that happens

      June 21, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • faith

      it is written somewhere ... it is easier for a camel to go thru a hole than a rich pastor.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  2. Hidden teeth

    And if she was black... a raise and a larger audience.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Closed eyes

      If a black can say it and get a raise and a larger audience, and she being white, gets repremanded, fired or sued... that's racist.

      How many times has W. Goldberg said the N word? The list of black entertainers making bank on the N word, is long.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • She knew

      She knew the instant it happened too. One after another. It was nothing for her.

      But Paula, she didn't know and she gets problems for using the same word.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:18 am |
  3. sieben13

    Fu if you repeat a lie often and long enough , you will eventually believe it

    June 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  4. sieben13

    Black people are so easily fooled by Racist

    June 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  5. markiejoe

    "What racist would let a black man walk all through her house?" the pastor asks.

    Probably about 90% of them, I answer.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm |

      Get it out of your hindu ignorant mind, now rich blacks have white and others doing their toilets.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  6. fu

    this is what happens when you have a whole class of people in this country who play the VICTIM CARD every chance they get. "I am always a victim"....blah blah blah......She has said the N word less that every Hip Hop gangster wannabe in this country. She did nothing wrong and I'm sick and tired of the lazy bums in this country using the VICTIM CARD to get an advantage in life.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Mopery

      Yeah, like those poor bank CEO's who were "victims" of toxic asset bundling, they just had to have that trillion dollar bailout, and they are still up to their old tricks with yet another new housing bubble.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Blame Obama for bailing them out. If a business fails, that's tough poo for them. Capitalism can't work if the state is just going to spend trillions to reward failing companies.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  7. hannah01

    This whole thing is ridiculous.She answered the question under oath and told the truth and now everyone has their panties in a bunch. Half the pollitians in GA are STILL raving raciists. And really, how much flak did Food Network get that they felt they had to fire her? I bet this wouldn't have put a dent in Deen's ratings.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • WhoKnewIt

      Yes, it is ridiculous. How many blacks call each other the exact same thing. Do they go around firing them for using the term? If this had been one of the African American chef's from FoodNetwork you wouldn't of even heard about it.

      Ms. Deen, I applaud your honesty in stating you had used the term, I don't applaud the media hype this has caused or what this has done to you.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Dippy

      Chefs, not chef's.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • albie

      she will probably just move over to fox and feel right at home there

      June 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  8. faith

    "What racist would let a black man walk all through her house? "
    The one that needs her house cleaned, toilet scrubbed.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • fu

      oh, you're such a victim aren't you?

      June 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Ted Bessel

      Are you implying that the only thing a black person I good for is being a maid or a janitor? You are a racist.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      It's a joke.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  9. Hoopla

    Sticks and stones will break my bones....

    June 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  10. nj@californiamoderate

    I do not cut my family any slack for not drawing the line when what seemed right and reasonable was presented to them in the 50's and 60's when educated and moral persons were realizing that treatment of others for degrading reasons was wrong. I do not cut Paula Deen or anyone else any slack in this situation. Good, moral persons should not be tied to crazy beliefs of their elders when right and wrong decisions are clear. Using the n-word is wrong, degrading and hurtful is wrong, period. We all need to hold our elders responsible if they made ill advised decisions based on hurtful and purposefully degrading propoganda from the right, the John Birchers, the hateful crazies.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Right and wrong is an arbitrary concept at the best of times. Saying any word is wrong is ridiculous.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      "Sorry Dave" but I think you are being a bit naive or are too young to know what this word carries in the minds of some people...

      June 21, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Colin

      You think everything is so relativistic that we cannot say that the n-word is bad!?!?!?!? Lol, get off your post-modernist high horse.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      I don't care what meaning it carries for some people, it's still just a word. And please don't patronize me.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that


      Everything is relative. You can call it a bad word from your perspective, it doesn't mean that it's a bad word in any absolute sense.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      "Sorry Dave" so you are going to lead with your ignorance, can't fault the feeble for that just pity them......

      June 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Fortune holds more for the bold

      Feeble is somebody who is offnded by a single word.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      Yep and clearly too young to understand, you are to be greatly pitied....

      June 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Webster

      Otoh, some words can be bad sometimes and not bad sometimes:


      1: a small cleft, slit, or fissure
      2: a weak spot that may leave one vulnerable
      3: a narrow beam of light shining through a chink

      A racial slur regarding Chinese people.

      June 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Webster

      wow, "chink" even made it through the word filter!

      June 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Fortune holds more for the bold

      Do you know who you are?

      June 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      I clearly do, I have served my country, raised my family, and have respect for others and did all this despite the poverty I came from....

      June 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Do you know what you are?
      You are what you is
      You is what you am
      (A cow don't make ham...)
      You ain't what you're not
      So see what you got
      You are what you is
      An' that's all it 'tis

      A foolish young man
      From a middle class fam'ly
      Started singin' the blues
      'Cause he thought it was manly
      Now he talks like the Kingfish
      From Amos 'n Andy
      ("Holy mack'l dere...Holy mack'l
      He tells you that chitlins...
      Well, they taste just like candy
      He thinks that he's got
      De whole thang down
      From the Nivea Lotion
      To de Royal Crown

      Do you know what you are?
      You are what you is
      You is what you am
      (A cow don't make ham...)
      You ain't what you're not
      So see what you got
      You are what you is
      An' that's all it 'tis

      A foolish young man
      Of the N.egro Persuasion
      Devoted his life
      To become a caucasian
      He stopped eating pork
      He stopped eating greens
      He traded his dashiki
      For some Jordache Jeans
      He learned to play golf
      An' he got a good score
      Now he says to himself

      "I don't understand you..."
      "Would you please speak more clearly..."

      Who is who
      (I don't know)
      'N what is what
      (Somethin' I just don't know...)
      'N why is this
      (Tell me now...)
      (That's a funny pronunciation if'n ever
      I heard one...)
      If you don't like
      (Where'd you get that word?)
      What you has got
      (Appropriot? The word is not...)
      Drop it in the dirt
      (Drop it yeah...)
      'N let it rot
      (I can smell it now...)
      Someone else
      (Here de come, here de come...)
      Will surely come
      (I told you they was comin')
      'N pick it up
      (That's right!)
      'Cause he wants some
      (An' he wants it for free...)
      And when one day
      (There will come a day...)
      You wonder who
      (I wonder too...)
      You used to was
      (Who I was anyway...)
      'N what you do
      (I used to work at the post office...)
      You'll scratch your head
      (But I don't wanna un-do my doo...)
      'N look around
      (Just to see what's goin' on)
      But what you lost
      (Can't seem to find it...)
      Will not be found
      (A Mercedes Benz...)
      Do you what you are?
      (I know...)

      June 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  11. jj

    Racist? We are ALL racists, to some degree. And culturists. I hear the Word all the time in Atlanta, and it's never by white people. Maybe it's the crowd I know... I don't think Paula is much of a racist, but you can't deny it's an ignorant thing to say! Especially for a public person, who sells on her personality.
    For Katrina, a closed casino put up the disaster workers. There was no food around, so they brought in people to serve dinner. Great food, low price... but the staff was all black, dressed in 'formal serving ware'. White on white, bow ties... It made me very uncomfortable. Yes, it reminded me of the Old South. But really, it was just black people in formal outfits. And they were lucky to have the work!
    Paula will survive. And maybe learn something. America will survive. I wish to never hear the word again. I wish blacks would stop using it!

    June 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Lmerr

    finally, some common sense.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  13. Fortune holds more for the bold

    So Quentin Tarintino can use the word and that's ok? Hmmm

    June 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      He does come in for his fair share of criticism for it though, albeit mostly from Spike Lee (who's never made a truly great film, unlike Quentin, who, by my reckoning, has made two).

      June 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      I find it an offensive word, but not sure of the double standard in this case

      June 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  14. Mopery

    Is there footage of her going off on some hate-filled rant, or is this all over one insipid question? After this, if anyone asks you if you've ever used "the N-word", your best response would be, "What word is that?". It will be a Catch-22 then. Force them to say the word, make them as guilty of using it as they claim you are. If they insist that you know the word, so as not to implicate themselves, tell them that you can not read minds.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm |

      Bet answer, ask them, what do you mean by this word, and let them answer, give your answer in yes or no, or I do not agree with your answer.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  15. PT

    Paula was raised in the Deep South in the 50s in a poor family. I would be surprised if she said she had not used the N word. What would be important to know is when she dropped the N bomb. If she used the term recently – that would be a problem .

    June 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  16. dcase20

    I and every single person I know have at some point in their lives said the n word. Saying a word does not make a racist. sorry, but a racist is someone who believes their race to be superior to all others. If a word makes a racist then 95% of all people living are racists. And that's just not true.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Henry

      You have a point. But you have to be very careful when you are high profile. These companies must protect the brand. I'm not referring to American Brands but world-wide ones which most brands are today.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  17. bj412

    Newsflash Pastor Tyson a person can make allowances for some people they perceive who do not fit their narrow-minded stereotypes, and still be a racist.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  18. iamanthonymalibu

    Naive... deal with people like this every day. the ones who say "you are a cool black guy"...

    June 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  19. Gov

    I can't believe Samuel Jackson's character from Django Unchained actually exists. What a shame.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      It was the best part of the film and his best performance to date.

      "The Black Hercules! That do have panass."

      June 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • dude

      hahahaha that was the funniest comment i have ever read... so true.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • vwgtiman

      I was stationed in MS a few years ago. Some black people will defend even if they were called the "N" word. Samuel Jackson's character in Django? I agree.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  20. IvotedforObama

    She is a true Rethugican – pretends to like a black person, but secretly hates them.

    June 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Maybe, but who wants to arm Islamic militants?

      June 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Let's hear it for the Great Pretender!

      June 21, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Bea

      Deen is a Democrat.

      June 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • fu

      a typical Obama voter...."I'm a victim always and ask for handouts in life because I'm too stupid to make a living myself".

      June 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Dippy

      Too bad, fu. Maybe you should try to get a job. Might be tough with your education, though.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:14 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.