Paula Deen has apologized and admitted she's made mistakes, but the queen of cooking is still losing her empire.
Food Network dropped her TV show. Other sponsors have bailed on Deen as well.
But many say this goes far beyond Deen's use of the N-word. She said she used it back before she was a TV chef, when she worked as a bank teller and was held up by an African-American gunman.
Deen also said she used the racist language as she grew up in the South back in the 60s. But Deen said she realized as time went on, that language was not right.
But many say Deen's use of the N-word, if it was said decades ago, is really not the issue here.
Dr. Cheryl Rodriguez is the chair of the African Studies Department at USF.
"I don't think anybody can be penalized for words they used years ago. When we know in the South, I mean how many white people can say they didn't have racist feelings years ago?" Rodriguez said.
Dr. Rodriguez says it's the hostile work environment alleged in a lawsuit against Deen that is the bigger problem.
According to the lawsuit, Deen allowed serious complaints and harassing situations to go on.
The suit alleges sexual harassment towards women, and it claims African-American employees were paid less than whites, and also not promoted.
It also details that African Americans were forced to use a back entrance, and that there was a culture of racist jokes among staff.
Dr. Rodriguez says those are the issues that should upset everyone.
"I think if you allow racism and sexism and homophobia to be a part of your culture of your business, then you really don't care about your business. Because eventually someone is going to call you out on it," Rodriguez said.
The allegations of Deen's poor management has left her out in the cold virtually on her own. Few are standing up for her.
Dr. Rodriguez thinks that's because most of us realize the hurtful nature of the allegations.
"I think more and more people are getting the message. we cannot tolerate discrimination. We cannot tolerate these oppressive kinds of practices, because they hurt all of us."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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