Paula Deen is back in the headlines. The New York Times posted a new article on Thursday regarding Dora Charles, a black cook who has worked for and has been friends with Deen for 22 years, claiming that black staffers were forced to wear Aunt Jemima-style outfits while working in Deen’s popular restaurant.
The interview with Charles (see above) took place at her home in Savannah, Georgia. While Charles was making $10 an hour, she claims that Deen “don’t treat me the way they think she treat me,” claiming that Deen even once said to her, “Stick with me, Dora, and I promise you one day if I get rich you’ll get rich.”
Charles also says that the staffers were asked to ring a bell while hollering “come and get it!”
According to the Daily Mail:
Her relationship with Deen goes back 22 years during which time she helped her make a success of her now famous Lady & Sons restaurant in Savannah, GA.
Charles did everything from developing recipes to training a new generation of Deen-style chefs and became an integral part of her empire.
But when Deen asked her to ring that damn bell, Charles wasn’t having it.
“I said, ‘I’m not ringing no bell.’ That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day.”
When Charles refused, Deen asked another worker called Ineata Jones – who everyone apparently called Jellyroll – to do it. An image of Jones doing it was made into a postcard and sold in Deen’s stores.
“I’m not trying to portray that she is a bad person. I’m just trying to put my story out there that she didn’t treat me fairly and I was her soul sister.”
Deen’s spokesman spoke out about the allegations:
“Fundamentally Dora’s complaint is not about race but about money. It is about an employee that despite over 20 years of generosity feels that she still deserves yet even more financial support from Paula Deen.”