After a long silence, the woman with TV’s midas touch, Oprah Winfrey, has been quiet on her friend Paula Deen’s use of the N-word.
But Monday night, Winfrey opened up publicly about Deen during an interview on Entertainment Tonight, saying ,”I think Paula Deen was sort of used as a symbol, but I think lots of people use the word inappropriately all the time,” Winfrey said.
Currently promoting her new film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Winfrey told ET, “I do not run in the circle of people who use the word loosely. For me it’s out of respect to those people who it was the last word they heard while they were being hung, the last word they heard when they were being fired, the last word they heard when their house was being burned.
“It’s the word heard every day when they were walking down the street and they had to step off the side walk to let other people pass.”
Winfrey also talked about race with regard to an experience she had while in Switzerland for Tina Turner’s wedding. Browsing a luxe store, a clerk refused to show Winfrey a handbag, assuming because she was African-American, she wouldn’t be able to afford the bag. Oprah says she left the store quietly, but can’t easily forget the incident.
Winfrey said she’d offer Deen the chance to sit down on OWN to talk about her N-word use, whenever Deen is “emotionally ready.”
After an awkward video public apology, Deen was fired from her show on the The Food Network, and lost her endorsement deals faster than Deen’s grandma’s deep-fried chicken causes cholesterol.
Winfrey said once Deen is emotionally ready to discuss the controversy, she’s welcome to return to OWN for on-camera sit-down.