Commentary: Paula Deen Does It Again

The celebrity chef compares her troubles to the situation facing Michael Sam, the openly gay college football player.

Posted: 02/28/2014 12:59 PM EST

Poor Paula Deen. She simply doesn’t seem to get it. The celebrity chef with the tart tongue recently made headlines by suggesting that the plight she has experienced, after revealing her penchant for using the N-word, has placed her in a position similar to that of Michael Sam, the University of Missouri football player who reveled recently that he is gay.

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name,” Deen said in an interview with People magazine. “It’s like that Black football player who recently came out. He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

It is difficult to comprehend how she has fused these two clearly unrelated situations. Moreover, there is something so thoroughly offensive about her attempt to compare her situation with that of Sam. The only thread of commonality is that the two were part of disclosures that became national news stories. Beyond that, there is nothing remotely synonymous in their situations.

Sam, the young defensive lineman, decided to make an official announcement that he was indeed gay. Given his role in the University of Missouri’s standing as one of the nation’s top 10 college teams, it is likely that Sam will be the first openly gay person drafted by the NFL. He has since made clear that, despite the history-making prospect, he simply wants to be known as a skilled player.

There is nothing scandalous about Sam’s admission, and he has been widely hailed for his courage.

Deen, on the other hand, became embroiled in controversy entirely of her own making and extraordinarily poor judgment.

The Food Network star was forced to admit she has used the N-word and made racist jokes several times in the past as part of a deposition in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The Southern television personality is being sued by a former employee of her Paula's Oyster House restaurant in Georgia, with the worker claiming racism and sexual harassment.

When asked in the deposition if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied, "Yes, of course." Deen went on to say she used the controversial word "when a Black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head."

Not quite a profile in courage.

Although she lost a number of endorsement contracts and her show was canceled, let’s not feel too sorry for the doyenne of macaroni and cheese fame. In the last month, it has been reported that she has secured an investment for a new company of somewhere $75 million and $100 million.

Perhaps her new business will keep so sufficiently occupied and she will resist the temptation to make any more additional outrageous statements.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

 (Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)

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