A new controversy and accusations of racism have emerged against Paula Deen today in the midst of a jaw-dropping New York Times interview with one of Deen’s top cooks and employee of 22 years. Dora Charles, Deen’s “soul-sister,” has come forward with shocking new allegations of racial discrimination; not the overt, white hood-wearing, N-word” slinging kind, but a more insidious undercurrent of unequal, and sometimes humiliating, treatment by Deen based on race.
According to Charles, she’s telling her story now because “It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me.”
Some highlights from the explosive New York Times piece:
The money was not great. Mrs. Charles spent years making less than $10 an hour, even after Ms. Deen became a Food Network star. And there were tough moments. She said Ms. Deen used racial slurs. Once she wanted Mrs. Charles to ring a dinner bell in front of the restaurant, hollering for people to come and get it.
Mrs. Charles’s family and friends got jobs with Ms. Deen, including Ineata Jones, whom everyone called Jellyroll. She ended up as close to Ms. Deen as Mrs. Charles was.
Ms. Deen used Ms. Jones for restaurant theater. At 11 a.m., when the doors opened at the Lady & Sons, she stood in front and rang an iron dinner bell, something she had asked Mrs. Charles to do as well. An image of Ms. Jones doing just that was turned into a postcard sold at Paula Deen stores.
Ms. Jones was also in charge of making hoecakes, the cornmeal pancakes served to every guest. Ms. Deen had designed a station so diners could watch them being made. At both jobs, Mrs. Charles and other employees said, Ms. Deen wanted Ms. Jones to dress in an old-style Aunt Jemima outfit.
We’re expecting another huge backlash from all of the seemingly rabid, die-hard fans of Ms. Deen, just like we got when we published this article about the real allegations against the Food Network super star. Be that as it may, we’re not going to stop reporting the accusations just because a bunch of folks blinded by Deen’s supposed “Southern charm” and deep-fried delicacies can’t handle it.
Of course, none of this has been proven yet, but as the old saying (kind of) goes, where there’s this much smoke, there’s bound to be a deep-fat fryer on fire.
Watch part of the interview with Dora Charles here, courtesy of The New York Times: