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Though she ultimately says that the abolition of slavery was a “terrific change,” she also takes some time to defend the practice. She says, back then, “black folk were such integral part of our lives, they were like our family,” and, for that reason, “we didn’t see ourselves as being prejudiced.” (The first person plural here raises the question: did Paula Deen herself live in the Antebellum South? Is she a vampire?) It’s also worth noting that she takes care not to refer to slaves as “slaves.” She generally calls them “these people” or “workers.”

And her defense of contemporary race relations is just as bizarre. She thinks the race relations in the South are “good… pretty good.” OK. “It will take a long time for it to completely be gone. If it’ll ever be gone.” Fine. But here’s where it starts to get weird. “We’re all prejudiced against one thing or another,” she continues. “I think black people feel the same prejudice that white people feel.” Hmm…

By far the strangest, most awkward moment of the whole talk, however, is when she talks about a black employee of hers named Hollis Johnson. She says that he’s become very dear to her in the 18 years she’s known him, which is plenty sweet. But then she says points to the jet-colored backdrop behind her and says he’s “black as this board.” She proceeds to call out to him in the audience and ask him to come on stage, telling him, “We can’t see you standing in front of that dark board!” The audience roars with laughter. Severson, shocked, says, “Welcome to New York.” And Paula, characteristically, responds, “Welcome to the South.”
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