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. Beef brisket pot roast

    Move over Paula time for the pioneer woman to show us how to make the real beef brisket roast

    June 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I heard that the pioneer woman plans on hosting an old fashion western pioneer dinner. She wants the dinner to be realistic so she is looking for indians willing to role play.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Ivan Cohen

    So Paula Deen let you, Pastor Tyson sit on her furniture and walk through her house. Big Whoopee! Wow, that should be a lead item on WTOC television and a headline in the Savannah Morning News. Ooh! Ooh! Stop the Presses! Extra! Extra! Read all about it. Peep this, Pastor Tyson must be living " a sheltered life." Has it not crossed his mind that because of his ministry and his day job, he does not pose a threat to Paula Deen. He has the way to get the same material comforts as her. She knows that Pastor Tyson won't break into her house. Truth be told Pastor Tyson your defense of Paula Deen comes from the fact that she helped financed your friend's limo service. I can understand him being beholden unto her but what is up with you? Like the horses in Savannah on these carriage tours with blinders on, you too Pastor Tyson have blinders on. The horses will recoup their eyesight long before you get yours.

    June 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • IntellectualViolence

      I suppose that I try to take people at their word, do my best to not twist their words, or try not to presume I understand their unstated motives.

      Pastor Tyson said he "knows" Paula Dean, so I will choose to believe him as I have no knowledge to the contrary. He did not say Ms. Dean could not be racist because he was in her home. Instead he says that he and his children were in her home, and he wonders if a racist would allow the same. There is a more direct implication between the first and second points (i.e., knowing Ms. Dean and visiting her as they both relate to their personal interactions) than there is to Ms. Dean and some generic racist in the abstract.

      Further, the Pastor offers other reasons why he rejects the label of racist for a woman he appears to like. Specifically, he references two separate instances (one specified, one unspecified) of Ms. Dean's financial support and generosity. We do not know that Pastor Tyson is a "friend" of Hollis Johnson, only that he is Pastor to the man, and it is unfair to presume Pastor Tyson's motives for defending Ms. Dean.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, ©™

    How convenient that there are no black racists, and therefore no reasons to destroy the careers of African-Americans who use the C-word or the H-word.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • BIG SHIZ

      That has nothing to do with this. This is about Paula Deen. And let's be clear, you can read these blogs and see 5 times as many white male racists than there are all the other types of people combined. Like you joey

      June 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Deen career isn't over. All that occured was that the Food Network didn't renew her contract. That was their choice. Deen is now free to sign with another network. Maybe she can get a show on OWN.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  4. Don

    I was tired of her anyway. Gool luck Mrs. Deen!

    June 23, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  5. vikingwoman

    If you've used the N word in your lifetime you should be punished & fired, retroactively!? Is that what the Food Network is saying? By that standard a massive retroactive firing would leave most Americans out of a job, including Black people & I'll bet most of the whole Food Network staff! Nuts, craziness & not in the least PC!!

    June 23, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Keith Walters

      No... the Food Network is separating themselves from the stupidity of an individual pompous enough to go on record saying she wishes her brother could experience the splendor of a traditional old south dinner with slave hands serving her. And to say she casually uses the N-word speaks to her character or lack of. She should invest her money in an education and sensitivity training.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      It is logical to assume that the Food Network had multiple reasons for deciding NOT to renew Deen's contract. They felt Deen was toxic to their brand. Reading her testimony (the parts NOT related to the 'n' word), I wouldn't want someone that clueless assocaited with my brand.

      Deen is free to find other outlets to market herself and her products.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  6. American Heart Association

    Even if she's not a racist the woman should be taken off TV for the damage her recipes do to everyone's arteries.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  7. guptil

    I would sooner trust a restored Limo made prior to the 70's than any newer one! And htey are cooler, like a 54' Caddy limo I once rode in! Not as much electronic junk,sensors and PCM's to short out or send fuel the other way like what happened several years ago in a car fire, I think it was also a Limo, made in the 80's. Glad the women got out ok! What a scare!

    June 23, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  8. The Dude

    Everyone is racist to some degree. Even Gandhi was. but it seems to me the inbred south has not figured out how to suppress these thoughts at least to the point where you can keep yourself from sharing them in mixed company.

    Perhaps it is all the inbreeding. I think it keeps them from speaking proper English as well.

    June 23, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer

      Yes the entire southern half of your country is evil. Still. I mean no matter how much time has passed.

      June 23, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • bkygray777

      I don't know where you live but I am in the South and proud to be. I'm not racist and where do you get your info? I like many in the south being Christian don't see color, we're all the same. Mrs Deen is human and like all is not perfect and should be forgiven although my understanding is the CEO of her Co. was a black man, if so then he may not. She has many that will and she will recover and do very well.

      June 23, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Keith Walters

      Contrary to popular belief most prejudice and racism is not in the south. The south is more open about their beliefs, no matter how warped, example Paula Deen. Most people in other regions just don't speak out about it for fear of financial recourse and lawsuits. You can't change the way people feel about other races and ethnicity(prejudices)... but you sure as hell can change how they act out about it. Being prejudice is one thing... but being a racist means being willing to act out physically on those beliefs.. affecting another persons rights and/or pursuits of happiness.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  9. hopeful2

    Paula's one black friend!

    June 23, 2013 at 3:14 am |
  10. TKeyes

    Everything I have read says most people like this man, still love Paula. We all make mistakes, especially ones from long ago. I think the Food Network will regret dropping her. She's the only one I watch. But also, let's be real, you don't see record companies dropping their rappers for using the N word. It's just ridiculous to fire her for something so long ago. I love Paula! Maybe she should start her own Food channel.

    June 23, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • BIG SHIZ

      You must be fat.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      Tkeyes; I watch the food network a lot and Deen is the one person I do NOT watch. She doesn't know how to cook and I just don't like her persona, but yea she did have a large fan following.

      But what network would wish to be associated with someone that has to explain that they are not a racist. i.e. just the fact there is a public discussion about this topic would make a company wish to distance themselve from said topic.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  11. lol

    the n word the a word the b word the c word

    what are we a buncha children in this country.... wait dont answer that

    heres an idea since they all like letters tell em all to F off.

    June 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    June 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Observer

      Here's what God did to children and other living things:

      Genesis 7:21 "And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings”

      June 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Would stupid be an adequate description of an individual who keeps going back to an argument that has been proven wrong. Unobservant has been unable to show any evidence biblical or otherwise for children perishing in the flood referenced.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I guess you're right. I prayed to the secular god for Deen to be fired and she was! Man I have seen the light!

      June 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Colin

      Stupid would be the description of any person who actually thinks that there were no children on earth, or fetuses in utero, at the time of the flood. Man, people will rationalize just about anything to justify the book of Hate.

      June 22, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Really? Tell us about Noahs grandchildren then?

      June 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Colin

      And who did his granchildren marry, moron?

      June 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Mighty

      iI believe that.... However, Americans don't pray like they use to. No wonder this country is slipping into moral chaos. Democracy is a farce!

      June 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      Prayer changes things

      June 23, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Science

      Hey Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things................trolling again ?

      June 23, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • nope


      June 23, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  13. mike

    let the victimization mentality continue...she made a mistake. i didn't see sean penn's son apologize even though he did much worse...al sharpton and roland martin have yet to own up to their anti-jewish and anti-white hatred.

    June 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Mike; I fail to see where Paula Deen is any type of victim. The Food Network made a decision NOT to renew your contract. That is understandable after all the negative press Deen has received in recent years (due all to Deen's own actions).

      Did you read her testimony? It is comic. The women might not be racist (I have no opinion on that), but she is clearly clueless about how to run a business, and what was going on at the place she owned with her brother. Her only defense was the silly 'my brother wouldn't do that' rant. She should get a job running Penn State.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Mighty

      Well if you confess that you've done me harm then i am a victim. The Jews still consider themselves victims after they have been repatriated and compensated. Blacks in a America are still waiting for that to happen. So you are clueless or a racist or may be a buffoon.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Lelani

      The blacks in America wish to be repatriated and compensated? Really? Repatriated where? Compensated how? Where would you send me? How could I prove it? I don't think you have a clue as to what black people think, Mighty. I'm no victim. My parents weren't victims. If you've got a victim mentality, (read, nothing is my fault, you did it to me) then you are never going to rise above anything.

      June 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  14. Laurence Charles Ringo

    With all due respect to this pastor,the"some of my best friends are white"defense just doesn't fly.Certaintly in this day and age a highly visible celebrity like Deen would have to be careful,but I would remind everyone that according to presumably reliable reports(e.g.the deposition),when Deen was asked had she used the N-word,she said(and I quote),..."Yes,of course"...as though it was a given;she made it sound as though calling African-Americans this vile,hateful slur is as natural as breathing!! Frankly,I would submit that for a White Southerner of a certain age,I have NO DOUBT that it is(and it's probably par-fo-the-course for not a few White Northerners as well!!).Lest anyone accuse me of jumping on the politically incorrect bandwagon,I am a 58-year Black man born and raised in the poster-child state of racial hatred,Mississippi!! So,been there,done that,witnessed that! Lynchings,KKK cross burnings,segregation in its most toxic,virulent phases,overt AND subtle! Now,don't get me wrong-I myself actually have zero problem forgiving Ms.Deen;while she may not be a racist in the conventional sense,the language of racial disparity is obviously woven within her mental DNA,if you will.Even so,I'm confident she can make amends and I for one refuse to pillory her;I believe she is genuinely sorry for her word choices.So...Ms Deen,from a Black Southerner to a White one of roughly the same Era,I forgive you,sincerely.I doubt anyone could punish you more than your're punishing yourself right now;it's perhaps small consolation,but I would have no problem patronizing any of your restaurants right now,given that I am a connoisseur of Southern cuisine.I'll leave you with this Scripture;HEED ITS WISDOM-"But no man(or woman!)Can tame the tongue;it is an unruly evil,full of deadly poison"(Epistle of James,chapter3,vs.8)-Mull,and God bless all!!

    June 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      While it is nice of you to forgive her, I hope you can understand why the Food Network executives couldn't. They had to protect their brand and Deen is toxic to their brand. As for eating southern food. Well I hope you do that in moderation. Even Deen after admitted the type of food she was known for shouldn't be eatten very often.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      Oh, shove it. You are no more a black southerner than I am the Queen of England. You're full of it. You can pretend to "forgive" her all you want, but I for one don't believe a thing you said.

      June 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Smoky

      "Certaintly [sic] in this day and age a highly visible celebrity like Deen would have to be careful."

      It wasn't said in "this day and age." It was said 27 years ago.

      June 23, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • exred

      When you grow up white in the south, it is as natural as breathing, to a lot of people. Until you move away from home and learn better.

      June 23, 2013 at 2:15 am |
  15. Alias

    When a rapper calls themselves a ni</Bgger everything is fine.
    When they call all white people cra
    cker in their lyrics, no one seems to care.
    But if a white person were to call a rapper a sel proclaimed nigger that would be wrong and the white person would be called a racist for ever.

    So long as there is such a double standard this issue is not going to get any attention, until it is politically correct to do so.

    June 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      First you're just flat out wrong that no one cares if blacks use the 'n' word. Many black leaders came out against the use of the word by black comics. C-N-N had stories about these disagreements in the black community.

      I have no idea if Deen is a racist or not. I'm just happy that I don't have to see her on the Food Network since she didn't know how to cook. People that like her can still purchase her products.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  16. Keep an eye out

    Paula Deen is a Democrat and good friend of Jimmy Carter. She also has a gay son. That trifecta exempts her!

    June 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      Thanks for weighing in, Lindsay Graham. So the hell what?

      June 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  17. old Southern lady

    Anyone, Black or White or any other color, born before about 1970 who can swear they never used the 'N' word is probably a liar.
    It was as common as saying "Yeah". Ya'll may not be remembering it right but I do.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I doubt the Food Network decided to cut ties with Deen just because she used the 'n' word years ago. Most likely they made their decision because they felt Deen was no longer relevant. i.e. the fat Southern lady cooking unhealthy food was no longer marketable. In someways that is sad since Deen did lose weight and looked a lot healther than she has ever looked. But it is difficult to market someone on a food network with 'hey, don't worry she isn't a racist!', especially when they can't cook well to begin with.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  18. Molten Fungus

    wow.. CNN just banned a word that was on the SAT when I was in HS.. it ends in "ardly"

    June 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  19. Truth Today

    Pastor, the question is "has Paula been to your house?" It is so common for Blacks to go visit Whites when if they are friends, they will come visit your house. Friends reciprocate visits and when a person is not willing to reciprocate a visit to your familiar environment, I doubt seriously if they are a a friend. Now, whether Paula is a racist or not, only God can answer that based upon her intention when she used the racist slur. However, you Pastor need to determine if you really are her friend or have you been so enamored to be accepted by a celebrity or a White person that you deem it a friendship just because they let you and your children visit their house.

    June 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Blacks feel "enamored' when visiting their white friends? I had no idea. A very good friend will be arriving at my door in minutes. I will make sure to let him know he should be "enamored" when I open the door.

      June 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Ana Jines

      My husband and I just read your post and we applaud you! We loved your remark. Thank you!

      June 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  20. TRUTH

    In my opinion, this is only going to end up better for Paula. There are already support groups on Facebook (http://facebook.com/pauladeenrocks) and one look at the Food Network page will show you what an outrage their decision has become for both fans and non-fans alike. This was an overkill decision.

    June 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Truth Today

      I wish people would create support groups for the victim of Paula's comments. No, Paula does not need to lose her job or contract. However, I would expect people to support the victims of her actions and support people who are discriminated against to the point that it impacts their livelihood.

      June 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Well it will be a while before anyone can determine if the Food Network made a wise or dumb decision by removing Deen.

      I think it was wise because Deen is just too toxic after multiple 'issues' the last few years. The 'oh, she is just a nice southern lady' rant just don't work now (regardless of what the actual reality is). But yea, Deen can still market herself to other networks, sell her books etc...

      June 22, 2013 at 5:35 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.