It’s Saturday morning and I should probably be doing something other than sitting on my computer, so this will be a quick post. In case you missed it, NBC studios according to many this week dropped the ball. See, it’s Black History Month and the NBC cafeteria decided in honor of Back History Month to offer a special meal that is eaten by Black Americans. So they chose a meal that included fried chicken and collard greens and well shit hit the fan.
Turns out quite a few of my brothas and sistas felt that such a meal choice was demeaning and playing into bad stereotypes. I consider myself an enlightened Black woman, but I have to be honest, its fucking fried chicken and greens. There are a great deal of Black Americans especially those with southern roots who eat fried chicken and greens, hell plenty of folks period who love this type of meal especially if they hail from the South. If anything I am mad about the fact that things like collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese and fried chicken are often shown as Black things when in fact they are more what I consider southern.
As far as charges of racism, there is plenty of racism that is upfront and in our faces and I am sorry but getting pissy over a food choice is just silly and takes away from the real racism out there. It really is not unusual to celebrate an ethnic or racial group by eating meals related to the culture…hell, I am going to a Chinese New Year’s Party and everyone has been asked to bring an Asian dish. I have gone to Cinco De Mayo celebrations and eaten Mexican food.
I hardly think it’s insulting to want to celebrate Black History Month by serving dishes common to Black folks…the reality is that while fried chicken may be seen as an insult, fact is its one of the few items along with collard greens that is universal among Black folks. No, we don’t all cook em the same. I have friends who cook ole skool style with fatback, lard and a grease extravaganza , I know folks who oven bake their chicken and cook their greens to keep em crunchy, green and healthy.
So in choosing such a dish while it may have a mixed history historically the fact is it is a universally eaten food more so than creole dishes you might find down in Louisiana. Or say the Caribbean based dishes that are common place among Blacks in New York and parts of the East Coast.
So I say if you don’t like fried chicken and greens that’s cool but let’s not act like it’s an offensive dish. No, an offensive dish would have been a plate of chitterlings, and pigs feet…something that that very few Blacks still eat in part because the art of preparing them has been lost. But let’s be honest there is nothing healthy about such items and really they do represent the scraps our slave ancestors were given and were able to thrive on and beat the odds. Yet at the end of the day, I know of very few Black folks who would eat these items in any fashion, so yeah a plate of chitterlings would definitely be seen as offensive- never mind they are rather offensive smelling.
No, leave the chicken alone and pass me the hot sauce.
8 thoughts on “Thoughts on Fried Chicken”
Come now! We have the same soul, same dreams, same body, same blood, and we are the same people!
Anybody can eat fried chicken. It doesn’t matter if the person is white, black, Mexican, Japanese, or others. We have same color of blood and Reginald Denny once said, “Does anybody check what color blood was? Probably red.” He said, “we’re all red guys.”
I think it’s insulting to think that a food choice celebrates Black History Month. Particularly a food choice that really has little to do with black people and more to do with a region.
I mean, I’d rather NBC honor black people by actually hiring them.
The only thing that pisses me off is that fried chicken being a black thing is a myth. Seen too many white folks pig out on it, and why not? It’s good.
Liked your point best: “…in the meantime we continue to use food in place of dialogue.”
Yep, finding ground in small talk, but even then, pretending it’s not a common ground. That’s what the dumb racist media does.
I agree that in the end using food and costumes to approach the culture and history of others is weak at best since there is so much more to a culture than food. Yet for most Americans we are not ready to have those discussions, so in the meantime we continue to use food in place of dialogue.
I agree with Chi chi’s assessment of the issue. Personally, I rarely eat fried chicken, never eat macaroni and cheese (lactose intolerant) and prefer my greens lightly steamed or raw. I wouldn’t eat that meal or feel particularly represented by it in Feb or any other month of the year. I know many AA’s who are vegan, raw foodists, macrobiotic, vegetarian, what have you who’d feel similarly.
My issue is why do we persist in using the food festivals and costumes approach to understanding each others’ cultures and histories? I guess it’s a lot easier than studying things like the normalizing of whiteness and white culture the but it’s kind of getting old if you ask me. How’s about NBC create a forum to discuss race and class issues in their programming or media in general? Or talk about increasing representation in their upper ranks? Who knows, perhaps they already do this but I’d bet they don’t, which is part of what angered ?uestlove enough to post this pic. In all fairness, I was talking with one of the band members of The Roots yesterday and he said others in the band were excited about the menu and ready to throw down. I appreciate that there’s different ‘Black’ perspectives about this, because as the beginning of my comment points out, we are a highly diverse people. Just my $.02.
The whole argument, I think, is based on the fact that for some, there’s no African-American culture you can pinpoint. If you believe there is one, then of course there are certain foods and customs that generally go along with the culture. If pushed, I would have to say that fried chicken and collard greens are foods that are indeed part of AA culture. And apparently, others agree. But if you don’t believe there’s at least a general culture shared between AA, it is stereotypical and annoying to have a culture (along with it’s greasy food) foisted on you. Racist? I guess it depends on who you talk to. I don’t know if I can speak on it because I’m not African American. But if they wanted to celebrate Igbo culture or something, I wouldn’t think it racist if they included things like moi-moi, pounded yam and egusi soup on the menu. These definitely represent the culture and every Igbo person will agree.
Dear black girl in maine:
Thank you for holding up my end of the chicken. I live in Portland Oregon where it is hard to find southern cooking done the right way out side of my own kitchen. Last night my daughter took me out to this new restaurant claiming that they cook soul/southern food right….well they did! and yes we did! pass the hot sauce and the vinegar bottle with the whole pepper pods in it! I hope they start adding a salad bar, don’t worry water melons are not ready until the month of may. I for one will not eat a water melon that is not grown in the united states of America
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