ATLANTA - Celebrity chef Paula Deen is addressing the backlash against her since a deposition revealed she admitted to using a racial slur in the past.
Deen, 66, appeared on NBC’s "Today Show" on Tuesday morning, telling anchor Matt Lauer that she’s not racist.
“I am here today because I want people to know who I am,” Deen said.
Deen’s admission was made in a deposition last month. She is being sued by a former manager of one her restaurants for $1.2 million, citing she knew about racial and sexual harassment by her brother and did nothing about it.
The famed Savannah chef apologized for her language in a YouTube video, but was still dropped by the Food Network and Smithfield Foods.
“The day I used that word, it was a world ago. It was 30 years ago,” Deen told Lauer.
She said she’s been somewhat in shock at the public’s reaction to the incident.
“Because there’s been some very, very hurtful lies said about me,” Deen said.
She said she only used the slur on one occasion decades ago, after being held at gunpoint. She said she was raised to be accepting of others.
“I believe that every creature on this earth, every one of God’s creatures was created equal, no matter who you choose to go to bed at night with, no matter what church you go to pray. I believe that everyone should be treated equal,” Deen said.
When Lauer asked her if she was aware of the power of the N-word, she alluded to African Americans using it amongst themselves.
“These young people are going to have to take control and start showing respect for each other and not throwing that word at each other,” Deen said.
She said she’s thankful for the people who have supporter her.
“I is who I is,” Deen said.