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. Well

    Well I've said the "O" (Ole) and the "L" (Lena) words. Does THAT make me a racist too?

    June 28, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  2. Jay

    Out of all the problems we have in the United States – we're making this headline news?!?!?! REALLY!!!!!!!!!!????????????? Let he among us who is without sin cast the first stone!

    June 27, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  3. Name*bob

    She's DefInitely Not Racist. But Why Is It That Black Celebrities Can Say The N Word And White Celebrities Can't?...

    June 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm |


      June 27, 2013 at 2:13 am |
  4. ray

    It's fine for blacks to call whit people names, but if someone calls them something they don't like, it becomes a big deal. Who is the real racist??

    June 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  5. Interested Viewer

    Paula admitted to something she said in the past and it is a shame she is being persecuted. The problem I have is this Reverend. You want us to take your word when you just stood in front of your congregation a few Sundays ago and admitted to having an affair with another member of your church. Your wife cant trust you so why should we. You cant be a character witness when your own nose dirty.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Reading along

      It's not if Paula Dean is a racist, it's not even a question on if a pastor cheated on his wife, heck it's not even a question of what Gweneth Paltrow named her kid...it's a question of why do we in this society have lives that are so boring we even stop to notice this dumb stuff?

      June 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Teresa Jewell

    You know, I've always believed that it wasn't the talk you talk, but the walk you walk..Paula's actions and her philosophy doesn't deserve this public "stoning". She does pay her workers, she does give financial support to a christian orphan group of black young men.she invites them to her home and she has had them on her TV show...She gave a couple of black chefs from Memphis a boost in their careers..She has given employment to many black people who may not have had that good a job....would a racist do that? This country is too full of haters...they are like wolves when they smell a weakness....lies can grow like the plague...don't believe everything you hear...proof is in the pudding!

    June 26, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  7. Bfie

    where was all this ballyhoo when Tiger Woods lost his sponsorship over a private domestic dispute with his wife?
    OOOh, its so quiet, I hear the crickets. Ok, thats what I thought. And now a word from our sponsors.

    June 26, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • midwest rail

      Two completely different situations. Nice try, though.

      June 26, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • sam stone

      got to love those people who ask a question and then comment on not getting a response in the same post.

      June 26, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  8. I don't get it

    Because you never see a face
    Their is no race
    In cyber space

    No gender need exist at all
    No fat no thin
    No short no tall

    It's honest, real our souls are nude
    I hate all people...because they're rude

    June 26, 2013 at 5:19 am |
  9. sheila

    Paula has done more to offend people than just use the n...word...she needs to pay...and to think, the first lady of the us has been on her show, twice..

    June 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • calvin

      And so what if the first lady has been on her show twice? What is your point. Oh yes- she should pay, I remember now. I am absolutely amazed at the hypocrisy and holier then thou expressions that are coming from from so many media mouth pieces. I would like to ask every one of these 25-35 year old Jeremiahs to go ask your mom and dad if they ever used that word or any other word that might offend God; or better yet ask the youngsters if they have ever used words inappropriately. Sis is sin and there is no degree with God in my opinion. The piling on and character assassination is extremely distressing to me. I read an article recently that talked about how Christians love to hate the sins of others. It apparently is true for non-Christians as well. My prayer is that you will come to know and love and serve the God that loves all of us in spite of our sins. Spend more time loving and less time hating.

      June 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  10. Russell

    Unless black people who use the word cracker get fired, this is a double standard.

    June 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • BIG SHIZ

      Why not focus on the fact that she is racist and needs to go?

      June 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Why not focus on the fact that it's racist for blacks to have a privilege that they won't allow whites?

      June 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Why not focus on the fact that saying one word does not make you a racist but rather it's the mindset of an individual. One could certainly be a racist and never say anything offensive or a word that blacks want to use but deny every one else.

      June 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Russell

      She is not racist.
      The meaning of that word has changed over time.
      Stop playing the victom and over reacting.

      June 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  11. alissapike

    Who hasn't used the N word?? I haven't and I know plenty of people who haven't. That's a stupid argument. If her employers want to fire her, that is their perogative. I certainly wouldn't want that face on my brand if I were in that position (that she put herself in).
    And anyone can be racist-think of all those people who tell racist jokes or make such comments and state, "It's okay. I have black friends/coworkers/neighbors", etc.

    June 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • reality

      Really? The word has never crossed your mind? You've never read it in a book or sang along to a song with the word in it? He says who hasn't, which means even he, a pastor, has. So is he a racist too? That's the point the guy is making. Saying the word doesn't mean you intend it to be spiteful or hateful, especially in an environment like the deep south and out of the mouth of a woman Paula's age. I don't know how old you are, but I know that people in their 60's and up aren't usually the most politically correct, even when they really try to be. I'm in my 20s and I'm still never 100% sure if my attempt at correctness is going to be offensive or not.

      I'm sick of every little thing being a news frenzy. A person in the deep South uttered a racial slur at some point a long time ago. Shocker. Yet we're all here acting like she's keeping slaves in her basement and whipping her minority waiters if they mess up an order. Let's just breathe.

      June 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • jiimbo

      yeah you are right i use it every time i refer to George W Bush and Dick Cheney.

      June 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  12. Lizbeth

    I love Paula and she was very honest in stating that she had even used the word. She could've lied like most other people. It is a degrading word and being a white person, i find it offensive when blacks call each other the word. It seems there has always been a double standard and no wonder that racism is as real today as it was in the 40s-present..................
    I have NEVER used the word but raised in 60s and 70s, i sure heard it ALOT in high school from mostly black kids.
    Paula should not be fired, she has apologized

    June 25, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Canista

      Paula is a saint.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • ME II

      There is always a double standard.
      Siblings can call each other names, but if the kid down the block does, there'll be trouble in many cases.
      Americans, or any country, can complain about Americans, but often if someone else does it's deemed offensive.
      Any group can make fun of themselves, but for someone else to is not acceptable.

      Whites have been the exception for centuries, it's just that now that exception not a good thing.

      June 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

      keep dreaming that an apology shouldn't get anyone fired, lol. Non-renewal of a contract and sponsors pulling advertising areall within their rights to do so, and if paula deen can't figure out that perception is everything on national television, thn she'll just have to learn to live out the rest of the short life remaining for her with her $60 million. So, quit feeling sorry for her and figure out whatreal victims in this world really need your freakin' sympathy, it ain't Paula Deen. Heard of the poor and hungry and homeless? Love them, you christians.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:20 am |
  13. jokes website

    One thing I've noticed is there are plenty of myths regarding the lenders intentions whenever talking about property foreclosures. One delusion in particular is the bank wants your house. The lender wants your hard earned cash, not your home. They want the bucks they loaned you along with interest. Keeping away from the bank will undoubtedly draw a new foreclosed summary. Thanks for your write-up.

    June 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  14. Mildred

    I don't see what the big deal is, ok she used the N word, who hasn't. I cannot see why the media and America is making this a big deal, first of all America was build on racism and hatred for minorities. So should all of white Americans get fired for being racist in the past?

    June 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • BIG SHIZ

      Yes, all the racists like you should be fired.

      June 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Honestly

      The "N" word needs to go to the bottom of the trash heep. Why even keep it. Why keep the "H" word the "N" word or any reminders of human stupidity active?

      June 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • saggyroy

      "...first of all America was build on racism and hatred for minorities." I guess that is why many claim that American was founded on christian values.

      June 25, 2013 at 6:10 am |
  15. Al

    I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me. ....Jesus John 14:6

    June 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • David Koresh

      These people remain here because I have thoroughly opened to them the seven seals.

      June 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Brixzz

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.... What the hell is this????

      June 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Canista

      Ha! That's the same as what Prophet Mohammad – the holiest of holies – said. Looks like we are friends after all.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • sam stone

      The Father is a vindictive pr1ck. The only people who want be around such a being are snivelling toadies

      June 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  16. The real Tom

    I think she's hot.

    June 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  17. WOT

    Paula Deen is a product of the Old South, if she is guilty then all of the South, North, East and West are! Yes, I am Black and
    I have a few White friends also.

    June 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Sigh

      Maybe one day you will stop worrying about the race of yourself and your friends or feel any need to define it. Humanity isn't there yet..but my hope is one day we will be.

      June 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • sheila

      I guess because you are a product of the south that gives you a reason to work people at your home and not pay them?

      June 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  18. Ebony & Ivory


    June 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Canista

      Wow, careful there, Jesus boy. You could be pulled up for child abuse. Stop loving them too much.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Beef brisket pot roast

    Yeah! Pioneer woman takes over

    June 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Arthur, TX

      While both these women can cook, Drummond's beef BBQ sandwiches is a real hit. Quite saucyband not too sweet, absolutely fantastic. One of the best recipes out there.

      June 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Sigh

      Meat is murder

      June 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • canyon

      The same tools that support abortion that have the scantest regards to human life speak about murder

      June 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • USMC1371

      If meat is murder then go to Finn's in Austin and let them kill you the "bone in T-bone" it's a little pricey but worth every bite.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:34 am |
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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.