Celebrity chef Paula Deen claims she’s not a racist, but the The Food Network made the right decision by quickly dumping Deen for hateful racial remarks about African Americans.

Deen is accused of using the N-word as part of a $1.2 million harassment lawsuit brought by a white former employee, Lisa Jackson, who alleges Deen routinely exposed her to sexual harassment and racist slurs, including a party-planning meeting during which Deen reportedly said:

“What I would really like is a bunch of little n******s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties. Now, that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn’t it?”

It sounds pretty racist to me, although Deen, a self-described Southern-style cook, released an apologetic video last week asking her fans to show her some mercy and explaining that she’s not a racist person.

But during the course of the deposition, Deen, 66, said that “of course” she had used the N-word to describe black people — but stressed that it had been long ago. Jackson said Deen frequently cracked racist jokes in Deen’s restautant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Ga.

“It’s just what they are — they’re jokes … most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know — I just don’t know what to say,” Deen said. “I  can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

As I listened to Deen’s tired explanation for using the N-word, I wondered what Oprah Winfrey thought of Deen’s racist remarks.

Oprah and sidekick Gayle King visited Deen’s house last year, dined in her home, played on Deen’s backyard swing and kicked it with Deen during an exclusive interview on Oprah’s OWN network.

I wasn’t alone.

“Oprah, believe it or not, is the first person I thought about when I heard this statement,” Wendy Williams, the outspoken talk show host, told Entertainment Tonight. “I said ‘I wonder if her black friend Oprah knows about this statement?’ I wonder if Oprah’s been privy in person to hear Paula use this and if she’s ever talked to Paula about it… I’m done with Paula Deen.”

“This is something that has been swirling around about Paula Deen for longer than this story,” Williams said. “It’s just a shame to hear that she has admitted in her deposition that she uses the word and that she freely throws around racist jokes.”

“She seems to think that it’s OK. It’s not OK. It just goes to show you money doesn’t buy you class, it only exposes who you really are,” she added. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Deen’s attorney tried to explain away Deen’s use of the N-word saying her comments were used during a time of segregation when blacks and whites used separate bathrooms and drank from separate water fountains.

So that makes Deen’s racist comments acceptable? Is this the so-called post-racial America we’re experiencing after the historic election of President Barack Obama?

It appears that Deen has made a fortune while privately cracking racist jokes. Between her TV work, speaking engagements, cookbooks, licensing and endorsements, Forbes estimates her wealth at $17 million. Network sources said she was paid between $10,000 and $20,000 for each episode of her various shows.

But here’s my problem with Deen: She gets caught using the N-word, refuses to take ownership of her racist ways, and suddenly blames the media. How is this the media’s fault?

“I want people to understand that my family and I are not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are,” Deen says in the video. “Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me.”

Deen explained it’s “what’s in the heart” that matters. “And my family and I try to live by that,” Deen said. “And I am here to say I am so sorry. I was wrong.”

Before releasing her video, Deen canceled an appearance last week on NBC’s “Today Show” citing exhaustion.

Really? Perhaps she’s just tired of all the scrutiny.

I’m not buying Deen’s lame apology and, thankfully, neither is The Food Network. Stick a fork in her, Deen is done – at least for now.

(Photo: PRPhotos)

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