After 11 years on the Food Network, Paula Deen's contract will not be renewed at the end of the month after Deen's public admission to having used the N-word.

The whole controversy came about when Lisa T. Jackson, a former employee at Deen's Savannah, GA restaurant, filed a lawsuit against Deen and her brother Bubba Heirs claiming that Heirs subjected Jackson to sexist, racial, and violent behavior.  The lawsuit also claimed that Deen herself frequently used the N-word and spoke of putting on a plantation-style wedding where the African-American staff would be dressed as slaves.  According to the lawsuit, Deen told her staff,

“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little [N-words] to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn't it?"

Most of this was unsubstantiated until Deen's deposition last month where she denied using the N-word in describing the plantation-style wedding, but admitted to have using the word in the past, specifically citing an instance where she used the word to describe a man who held her at gunpoint.

Deen was set to appear this morning on the Today show to be interviewed by Matt Lauer on the subject, but her publicity staff cancelled on her behalf at the last minute citing exhaustion.  Since then, Deen has posted three short videos apologizing for using hurtful language and for failing to appear at the Today show.

"I was invited this morning to speak with Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful for a lot of people," she said in the second video. "And Matt, I have to say, I was physically not able this morning. The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others, and so I’ve taken this opportunity now that I’ve pulled myself together and am able to speak to offer an apology to those that I have hurt."

“I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done, and I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I’ve made.”

Immediately after the statement from the Food Network, there was an outpouring of not only support for Deen, but also support for the Food Network defending their decision.  Though Deen has said that she hasn't used the word in a few years and has changed her mentality, the lawsuit claims that Deen's decision to not go through with the plantation-style wedding primarily because of the feared media backlash.

via MSN and Today