I’ve never met Paula Deen, but this I know: She is not a racist. I write this post on the heels of yesterday’s breaking news–that Food Network will not be renewing her contract.
Like many of her fans, I too am from the South, her native state of Georgia. We share a love for Southern comfort food, seafood and the coast. For years, I’ve cooked from her cookbooks, eaten at Savannah’s The Lady and Sons, visited her gift shop and looked forward to Saturday mornings when I could sit down and learn from her as I watched Food Network. I’ve spent many an hour in the kitchen following her recipes and laughing with my Grandma over how long it took me to bake her lemon cake, and how easy they made it look on TV. I can’t count the number of times I’ve eaten a delicious cake or herb-roasted pork tenderloin with the family, and upon that first bite of pleasure uttered the words, “It’s a Paula Deen recipe,” as everyone tasted in agreement. I’ve read her book It Ain’t All About the Cooking and have found myself in her as I admired her rags-to-riches story. I’ve tasted some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. Paula Deen is a nationwide household name. As fans, we feel a connection to her, relate to her and associate good memories with her food and her name.
Just this week before the news was revealed, I made known my ambitions to cook with Paula on her Best Dishes Food Network show. She has been a huge inspiration for me in the kitchen and without her, I wouldn’t be the cook I am today. Paula paved the way for many Southern TV food personalities that have come and are coming after her. For that, I’m thankful.
I believe Paula Deen is a kind-hearted, generous and caring woman. Her fans–black and white–are loyal. Those that know and love Paula admire her courage. I believe her apologies were sincere. When reading the fan’s reactions to the news on Food Network’s Facebook wall just yesterday, one comment said it all: “Leave my Paula alone. Yes, I am African-American.”
Paula, Michael, Jamie and Bobby…if any of you read this, know that this morning we sit around our breakfast tables saddened. We’re wondering how this will affect Jamie and Bobby’s Food Network shows, how we’ll ever be able to watch the network again without hearing Paula’s laugh and seeing her familiar, friendly face. No matter what lies ahead, we love you all and will always be fans. Know that our thoughts and prayers go out to your family.
Paula Deen is not a racist, and that’s just the truth y’all.