EXCLUSIVEPaula Deen is using the "I'm from the South" excuse to justify her use of the N-word ... saying that when she grew up, dropping an N-bomb was no big deal because everyone was racist.
Paula Deen Enterprises just issued the following statement to TMZ ... "During a deposition where she swore to tell the truth, Ms. Deen recounted having used a racial epithet in the past, speaking largely about a time in American history which was quite different than today."
FYI -- the "time" Paula admitted to using the N-word was 1986!!!!!
Anyway, the statement continues ... "[Paula] was born 60 years ago when America's South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus. This is not today."
As we previously reported, Deen admitted using the N-word during a sworn deposition stemming from a lawsuit ... in which the chef and her brother are accused of using offensive language at Paula's restaurant in Georgia.