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

« Previous entry
soundoff (491 Responses)
  1. Those who care about race, are racists

    Apparently P.D. used the N word years ago. She also wanted black males to serve at a wedding.

    I don't care. I don't care at all. Caring about this is stupid. It is like 2nd grade all over again years later.

    Who are you to care about who she wants to hire to serve at a wedding she plans out? Did she help you change your wedding plans? You are so busy worrying about a white person and if a white person EVER says something about a black, or if they hire, or don't hire a black, or if someone says a stupid word.

    I'm white, there is no racial word you can call me that will get you fired, because I don't care about being white. The news doesn't care if I'm white either. No one cares that I'm white... unless I ever say something with the word "black" in it.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      You need to ask the Food Network executives why they cared. They clealry did since the fired Deen very quickly after this story broke. Review her testimony. I have no idea if she is a racist or not (a term overused by the media), but she clearly was clueless about what was going on in her business.

      The Food Network executives are no more racist than Deen. They just made a business decision that Deen is toxic. If enough of the public supports Deen she can still make a lot of money harking her products.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  2. jazzguitarman

    It is silly to discuss if Deen is racist or not since that is too hard to pin down. Regardless Deen has been fired by the Food Network. She might be able to find another venue to market her products but what success she has is up to the general public. I never liked her (she can't cook, she was very dishonest in her handing of her diabeties, and her persona is a turn off to me), but many others clearly liked her. So she can make a come back.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

    She's obviously racist,and anyone that think it's ok to use that word is too.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Really? Ever rap artist is racist? Wow. That's some logic.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  4. guest

    If Strom Thurmond can father a biracial daughter with a Black woman and still be an advocate for Segregation, Paula Deen can certainly be racist and be a so called mother figure to a Black man.

    June 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • mike teall

      And Hitler could be a good guy too right? Your logic is absurd.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  5. gigimarie

    This pastor and many other people don't understand that a person is not just one way, they can do great good and turn around and do great evil. You can be the most racist person in the world, and sit at others table, bring over food, help pay others bills, but you can also go home and complain about how much you have to do for those unfortunate Ns. The bible says that "there can be a lavish hand were there is no love. (paraphrasing). Read it in proverbs.

    June 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • mike teall

      This is why Lil Wayne should be jailed for stomping on the american flag. What he did is a crime. Paula Deen is hardly a gang banging rapper, pot smoking criminal.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      In our current society, it is socially acceptable to stomp on the American flag; it is not socially acceptable to call someone the dreaded "n-word" -unless you're black-then it's perfectly fine.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  6. Deb Brimer

    The media has nothing to do but ruin people's lives by running non-stories in the ground. This is not the media's first attempt to ruin Paula Deen. First it was because Paula Deen had not disclosed the fact that she had diabetes. If medical records are protected by law, what gives the media the right to disclose Paula Deen's health? Now they're beating a story to death about her saying the N word 20 or 30 years ago. If we're all subject to public ridicule because of something we said or did 20-30 years ago, none of us are safe!

    June 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Gwen

      If you caused a situation to happen don't blame it on the media. She advocated fat but forgot to say it has hurt her health. As for her comments often times in today's society when people provide support to others it is strictly for publicity can someone please share that with the cheerleading Pastor?

      June 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Margaret

      What about the fact that she wanted all black servers at that wedding because it would remind people of slaves and she wanted a good old-fashioned Southern wedding?

      June 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      The media didn't get the Food Network to fire Deen. That was a decision the network made. Deen is free to market herself to other networks and sell books etc.. .directly to those in the public that still favor her.

      I have never liked her cooking (it is total crap in my view), as well as her persona but others did and she was able to make a lot of money. But the Food Network believes it is best to move on.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  7. GrandmaCin

    This isn't about having ever said the N-word. She commented, fairly recently, about how wonderful it would be to have a wedding where the servers were all little black boys and exclaimed that she thought it would be the "perfect Southern wedding" which, to me, means that her idea of perfection was the Old South were blacks were totally subservient to whites. Her head is full of butter.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      How can I verify the accuracy of this story?

      June 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jasn

      The accusations that Paual Deen said the n word with regard to the Civil War wedding comes from the white woman suing Paula Deen. Paula Deen never said she said that. That white woman who is suing wrote a letter praising Paula Deen just 2 months before her quitting/gtting fired. Then she admitted asking Paula for 1.25 million or else she would sue her. Paula refused and that's why the whie woman is suing her. The white woman's name is Lisa Jackson.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I did find several references about a comment she made on being waited on by black men in white jackets, but I couldn't find anything about children.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Gwen

      Cpt Air Head verify the Story with Paula....she apologized. Wow no brains

      June 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • mike teall

      I'm white and I have never owned a slave neither have my ancestors. But we have been slaves to Africans on the Barbary Coast. Don't ever tell me white's are racist, that is the most ignorant statement I have ever heard. You could say the same thing about any race. Most people are not racist and Paula Deen certainly is no racist.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious


      Gwen, go fvck yourself with a large cactus. When someone writes something that is questionable and sensational, they should provide a link or some other way to verify their story. I'm not the fact-checker for everybody else. I asked for a way to verify the story because I wanted to know the truth of the matter, but I guess you don't respect that someone would want to know the truth.


      You have no idea if Paula is a racist or not.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  8. nick

    I watched CNN this AM- and they dedicated 10 minutes to this story at the TOP of the show- once again the media is creating the story. Look the word is offensive and not PC- but the hypocrisy is in the fact that everyone ignores the black rappers, athletes, actors, movie producers, directors and everyday black folk for using this word on an everyday basis. If the word is so OFFENSIVE and racist why is it ok for it to be used in this way? Because they are black? Well they are the ones that are so offended by this language but its ok to use it in everyday language? Sorry but create consistency in your outrage.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Racism, in part, is denying one race what is allowed for another race. Thus, blacks are racist to use the n-word and act upset when others use it.

      June 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I disagree. Those rappers et al, who are using the word are taking ownership of it. Whites gave it to them for so long that they decided to take it and made it tantamount to an inside joke. Now it belongs to them.

      There are definitely two definitions now - one that is inclusive and personal, and the other - the original - which maintains the hatred and the racism. Anyone paying attention knows the difference.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No, Tallulah, you're wrong. People can "mean" almost anything when they say the word. It is racist to say that one race can do something that another race can't do. Period.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  9. LIGHT

    Do you know why the US forces are there in the Middle east region?

    Do you know why they are talking too much about the NEW Middle east?

    Do you know why events are running very fast in the Middle east area?

    Because the Christ will come back again in the Middle east area ( where he born) and where the final battle will take place.

    So the antichrist is preparing the stage for that by sending his forces (US forces) to fight Muslims and the Christ (his killer)
    When he comes back.

    So in the media all Muslims must be terrorists and must be killers to make it easy to convince peoples to fight them.

    The media will show the antichrist as the hero who came to save the mankind.

    The antichrist succeeded in making people forget about him.

    But he is there planning for the final battle.

    June 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • lol??

      And you sound like you've already been tricked into thinkin' WWIII willl be the final battle. You forgot about the 1,000 year reign.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  10. Elfilo

    I know the pastor wants to believe in the best in people, but the reality is that we've all had racists in our homes and we've all been in the homes of racists. Not all racists are separatists, two different distinctions. Many racists interact with people of different ethnicities. Interaction does not mean someone is not racist. Racist is actually a very general term, because it describes the ideas and beliefs about race, but it does not necessarily discuss the implementations in which racism is used.
    For example, someone might be "friends" with someone of a different ethnicity but they wouldn't want their child to marry someone from a different ethnicity. Those of us who have been confronted with racism in our lives (and probably most of us have at one time or another) know that most of the time it is a very subtle and nuanced experience, it's not just a KKK rallly burning crosses in your yard or a neo-nazi or someone from the Nation of Islam or Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona screaming in your face.

    The pastor is hurt and confused and wants to defend his friend. But, alas, he is a human, a mere mortal, and doesn't really know what is in Deen's heart, and neither do we. Let's see what the courts decide about her actions towards her employee and take it from there.


    June 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • lol??

      "...................know what is in Deen's heart,......................."

      "Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

      See any wars lately??

      June 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Bobby

      So you confirm that it is used as an excuse. You do not know what is in someone's heart. No one does except the person that has it beating inside their chest. "Racist" is a label that folks use for others automatically when their is a lack of agreement or beliefs between races. There is always a "victim". Get over it. The number of people that allow silly words and deeds to hold them back from doing things to better themselves is alarming in the US.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Constantine16621990

    Paula deen looks like a big fat burn victim or something, shes so weird looking:/

    June 22, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Doris

      Hmm. You're giving me ideas for this coming year's pumpkin-carving contest. That Manson-faced pumpkin thing is getting kind of old.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • PC Police

      Is poking fun of Paula any worse than her saying the N word?

      Damned hypocrites all over the place.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  12. lol??

    The Masters could always just dissolve the special Son of the Beast, The Food Network. You created it. You can kill it. Let the woman learn how to cook by pleasin' their hubbies.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Science

      Have deep fried blue gill sandwich with popcorn lol??

      June 22, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • lol??

      Before the grammar POWICE come out in force make that "woeman".

      June 22, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • lol??

      Nope Science, you be killin' with cottonseed oil. Now eat my shorts, they be cotton.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Science

      Pound sand and _____ off !!

      June 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • lol??

      Dr. Frankenstein from the Frankfurt School speaketh.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • merridee

      Meh... If I'm pleasin' my hubby, I sure the heck ain't cooking! LOL

      June 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Science

      hey lol?? when are you going to blast off and do the DNA deal ?

      June 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So why would a golf tournament have any power over a cooking channel?

      June 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  13. Captain America

    I love making Colin look stupid because I am jealous that he has a brain that works when I don't even have an IQ that is higher than 5.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Captain America

      Yes yes it is me stealing Colin's alias.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Just don't talk about my camel toe or I'll have to get carnal with you.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Colin

      Last time i looked there are a lot of colins in this world get used to it.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  14. LIGHT

    Actually CNN is a very respectable channel...they always want to remind us with 9-11 attacks so they designed their logo by that way to remind us with the attacks.

    See now how they are very clever in that:

    Read the logo upside down you will get MD..............means (M)onth and (D)ay.

    Read it from left to right you will get.............. 9111....... means 9-11-01.

    Read it from right to left you will get.............. WTC...... read the T upside down.

    Thanks CNN for that.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • John


      June 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • musician

      Yeah, whatever Light is smoking... I want some of that stuff.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  15. Portland tony

    So stupid.....don't know her personal business ethics, but I do know that growing up in the South during the 40's and 50's, words and phrases using racial slang were commonly used by both races in a non derogatory way much of the time. The only racial slurs I ever heard used in a mostly demeaning way were in northern cities, The phrases like "African American" or "Person of color" just weren't in the American vocabulary back in the day. Today we have all settled on the "PC" wording when referring to the different races. To condemn a woman for using acceptable words some 50 years ago is idiotic. To use them today is totally unacceptable. I think she was really fired for her unhealthy cooking practices anyway.....Southern food can be really tasty and healthy without a pound of lard being added!

    June 22, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  16. stldude

    So now we are judging people for comments they made 20 years ago? Really? And now people are suing because someone who is now rich and famous offended us 20 years ago? Racism and using the N word is clearly wrong but destroying a persons life for uttering an offensive word 20 years ago after spending decades there after being a good person who helps others clearly shows that Paula dean's heart is defiantly in the right place. This truly is a sad commentary on what America has become. God bless her and I will pray for those who cannot find the grace in their hearts to forgive her.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      Forgive her for what? The Food Network fired her. I'm glad since I didn't like her food show (she doesn't know how to cook), or her persona. So I'm just glad I don't have to see her mug (since the Food Network is station I like to watch).

      The Food Network decided it was time to move on. Deen is free to market herself in other ways.

      June 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    June 22, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Bostontola

      Prayer changes things.

      I'm sure that is true. What is interesting, is that prayer changes things and there isn't a god there. Much like a high school football coach changes things with an inspirational speech before the game. There are no guarantees in speeches or prayer, but it surely can change state of mind.

      Now if you think prayer gets some god into action for you, you are just deluded. If you think prayer makes things happen without your personal action and behavior, you're deluded.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Observer

      Speaking of unhealthy for children and other things, look at what God did to them in the Great Flood he made to destroy them.

      June 22, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Colin

      As it has been proven you can't show there were any children involved in the flood.You seem to be a one hit wonder...flood....flood ...flood yet you know jack sh it about the flood

      June 22, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Bostontola

      If there were a great flood that killed every living thing except on the ark, how would it matter if there children or not?

      June 22, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Colin- are you positing that there were no children anywhere on earth at the time of the flood? What a ludicrous assertion.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Colin

      It is the unobservers unproven contention that there were children and that somehow that would make God less just. Truth is we really don't know but the indications point to a childless world where perversion reigned.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Colin

      Don't have a cow look at the evidence as recorded.

      June 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  18. Azsmo

    I'm sorry to see that Ms. Deen's sponsors are dropping her. Honestly, as a white person who was raised in the era of segregation, I couldn't say that I've not said the N word more than once in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure that a few black people have used racial slurs on us white folk too, to this day. Ever hear about that in the news? I hate racism, it has no place in the world, it's horrible. Paula Deen, however, doesn't seem like a racist to me. She seems like a human being who said something, perhaps in jest or in an honest moment that wasn't quite acceptable and now, she's condemned for it. Seems a bit harsh.

    June 22, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Elfilo

      My respect to you, Azsmo, for sharing your thoughts on this highly charged subject. With regards to your question about hearing about black people using racial language against whites, yes it is reported in the news, when it involves a person in the public eye. We can go back to Malcolm X's use of the white man being the "white devil", that was pretty publicized. As was the case of Erykah Badu who has said A LOT of racially antagonistic things towards white people in general; too many to even list one example here. Look online, you'll see lots and lots of articles about it. She's not as famous as Deen, so it doesn't make the front cover, though. And let us not forget the infamous Kanye West's , "...Bush doesn't care about black people," comment on LIVE television during the Hurricane Katrina fund raiser. Spike Lee, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and a plethora of other African-Americans in the public eye have made questionable remarks regarding 'white' people (and other ethnicities like latinos and asians, as well). Generalities have been made by people in the public eye of all ethnicities about people from all different ethnicities and yes, the media does cover it ( i can't believe i'm defending the media, but hey, fair is fair, right?). So you're picking and choosing what you wish to see, hear, or claim, in order to prove your point. You must take a wider perspective and take into account the context under which you choose to make claims.


      June 22, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  19. Bostontola

    This story is a stretch on the belief blog, just because a pastor spoke out? Do people still think pastors are trustworthy?

    June 22, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Vic

      Actually, that's very genuine of Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr. to come forward in Paula Deen's defense like that!

      June 22, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Bostontola

      Your opinion.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  20. Vic


    Way overboard sensitivity by the Food Network (maybe an excuse) and too much publicity stunt by the National Enquirer (no surprise there!) Making a real difference in people's lives transcends silly remarks that don't mean anything! I wonder how many people will be put out of work because of this!

    June 22, 2013 at 4:26 am | Report abuse | Reply

    June 22, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Science

      Hey Vic.................. and the supreme court is going to rule when ?..............remember no horn-y beast needed.

      That se-x deal and love ?

      Face it: Monogamy is unnatural

      By Meghan Laslocky, Special to CNN

      updated 11:02 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013


      June 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
« Previous entry
About this blog

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.