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Old 11-02-2011, 02:33 PM
YogSothoth YogSothoth is offline
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Racial food stereotypes

This article on Slate.com tried to explain how and why racial food stereotypes are offensive, using the common example of black people and fried chicken. It made me think about a question I've always wondered, which is why any association with food stereotypes, especially among blacks, are usually seen as offensive.

As a Chinese person, I have no problem with people saying I probably love chow mein, egg rolls, and rice. I've also never met a hispanic person who was offended if I suggested tacos and burritos for lunch.

But bring up the fact that black people like fried chicken or watermelons, and you'll have a riot.

In the article, the attempted explanation was that the history of fried chicken goes back to the slave days, that its a food that is associated with oppression and the lower class. I can understand the desire not associate a race with such characteristics, but I disagree with the premise that fried chicken or watermelons have that connotation. I didn't even know about fried chicken and slavery. I'm willing to bet a high percentage of KFC eaters don't either. While fried fatty foods are usually associated with the poor and slovenly and obese, we don't get such a racial gutpunch from burgers, french fries, hot dogs, potato chips, or any other unhealthy junk food.

I do agree with the article on one issue, and that is one may attempt to slander a black person with such easy characterizations, and that our black president, being of a magnitude more important, classy, and respected than the typical person on the street, probably is sometimes targeted with such stereotypes with the intent of putting him down. But the article goes on to say that Bill Clinton wasn't seen as slovenly because of his McDonalds habit, it may have added to his charm. Is it because he's white? Or because burgers don't have as much negatives as fried chicken?

Let's face it, in America, we've taken a lot of ethic cuisine and made it popular, to the point where perhaps the lower class, oppressive connotations of foods that originated with poor people hundreds of years ago is now seen as just another tasty dish. I like Chinese stinky tofu, and that was allegedly created because the poor couldn't afford fresh food and ate crap that spoiled. I don't have a problem with that. I would have a problem if someone tried to say that Chinese people stink because they eat it, but not if simply we were associated with eating a particular food itself.

So I guess my belief is that its really weird that people think its insulting to associate black people with fried chicken. I don't see a problem with it, and slavery is the furthest thing from my mind when the 2 things are brought together. What's wrong with saying that someone, even a race of people, likes to eat a certain delicious type of food? Even if they're wrong, what's the harm? I wouldn't say it about Obama because we know he's a really healthy and fit person, but to a random black guy that I don't know, I will probably continue to think he likes fried chicken. I don't see how that's bad at all
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:49 PM
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Racial food stereotypes are offensive because all racial stereotypes are offensive.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:18 PM
RyJae RyJae is offline
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
Racial food stereotypes are offensive because all racial stereotypes are offensive.
I grew up with a ton of pork, variety of vegetables, cabbage, sometimes all thrown into a pot as my dinner. I can tell people that and they can guess my heritage, it is a non racist thing.

Now onto the fried chicken and whatnot, it isn't heritage it is something that people have made rude statements about the chicken/watermelon thing so it is offensive IMO.

Last edited by RyJae; 11-02-2011 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:32 PM
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The offensive part is not saying that someone likes fried chicken but that someone seems to be the kind of person who likes fried chicken. Fried chicken and watermelon were foods enjoyed by poor and oppressed black people. Saying that someone would like those foods is taken by some to insinuate that they are like those poor and oppressed people. Black americans have a culture that prizes respect very highly, because of this they are especially alert for racial slights.
All ethnic groups have stereotypical foods, but only black people are taught to associate that stereotypical foods with insults. Since charges of rascism are so serious white people have gone along with the perception of the insult in order to build a wall around rascism like rabbis do with the Torah.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:49 PM
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I think there is a difference between acknowledging the correlation between food preferences and ethnicity and defining a person by ethnicity and extending that definition to food preferences.

To acknowledge that Asians tend to eat more rice than Italians is rational and not racist. To assume that anyone who is Asian must necessarily prefer egg foo young to spaghetti, is racist.

It also depends on how it is used. If your going to a cinco de mayo celebration I wouldn't consider it racist to bring refried beans. But to use the term "beaner" to describe a Latino is definitely racist.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:51 PM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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I shall regurgitate my original post from 01/06/2010 in a thread titled "Why is fried chicken racist in the USA?" from right here on the SDMB.

A passage from Three Years in Arkansaw: Beats All Books You Ever Saw by Marion Hughes published in 1904 where the coroner is examining a large black woman discovered in her bed dead for cause of death (pgs. 85-86):

Quote:
The question arose whether she was dead or not. We were all afraid to touch her for if she had moved we would have gone out the door like sheep over a fence. Finally, I suggested that we get a young chicken and fry it nicely and hold it up before her and if she didn't reach for it, she was dead. I knew that much about a nigger...There were very few niggers in that part of Arkansaw and what few there were occasionally found themselves dead of a morning, but they were like all other niggers. When they won't reach for a piece of fried chicken you can prepare for a funeral.
Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a humorous little anecdote.

It's not necessarily "harmful" to say that one group likes fried chicken but when it's become part of a racial stereotype it certainly can be.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:01 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Yea, the liking fried chicken and watermelon thing was part of a sort of turn-of-the-century trope of blacks as stupid, jolly, obsequious, impoverished field hands. So its not simply liking fried chicken thats offensive, its that its become a symbol of the image of a particular pop-culture image of blacks.

Sort of like Jews with big noses, there isn't really anything terrible about having a big nose (and certainly some Jews have big noses), but its a symbol of a particular unflattering image of Jewish people that used to be popular: hook-nosed, conniving and greedy.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:11 PM
YogSothoth YogSothoth is offline
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But its harmless!

I can understand why saying "Asians have slanted eyes" is offensive, even if some of us do. Its an insult because you're telling us we're ugly. Same goes with offensive words like kike or chink. The words themselves are meaningless, but we attribute meaning to it because they were created to be offensive so we take it as such

But a delicious golden brown piece of junk food that most of the country loves? What's wrong with that? Having already pleaded ignorance about the slave origins, and probably most of the country is ignorant on that point as well, I don't see why saying that blacks like watermelons or fried chicken can be construed as a bad thing. At the worst, a black guy who doesn't like it gets annoyed that you brought it up as a choice for lunch, that's it
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:21 PM
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You know who likes Fried Chicken and Watermelon? Chinese People. Seriously. KFC is huge in China. Coca-Cola makes watermelon soda for the Chinese market (Yum!).
I never understood the stereotype. Fried Chicken and Watermelon are delicious. Of course black people like them! They aren't stupid.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:27 PM
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Perhaps because I'm from Canada and I like both KFC and watermelon that I've never taken the claims that these foods are racial stereotypes for black people seriously. Somehow though I have acquired the notion that catching and eating big ugly channel catfish is southern rural black culture. Must have read it somewhere.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:41 PM
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You know who likes fried chicken and watermelon?

Everybody.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
I can understand why saying "Asians have slanted eyes" is offensive, even if some of us do. Its an insult because you're telling us we're ugly. Same goes with offensive words like kike or chink.
Again, its that its a signifier for a wider stereotype of blacks that is unflattering, independent from the actual eating of fried chicken..

Or put another way, what do you think the person who made this picture is trying to communicate? That Obama really likes watermelons? Obviously not, its meant to connect Obama to the stereotype of a poor, stupid, jolly southern field-negro.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
You know who likes fried chicken and watermelon?

Everybody.
Let's put it this way. I grew up in the South, and later lived there as an adult. Fried chicken was a universal meal. I didn't know anyone, rich, poor or someone in the middle, who didn't have fried chicken at least once a week. For that matter, it was pretty darn popular in the Midwest, as well.

Watermelon? Who didn't enjoy a fresh slice of watermelon on a hot summer day?

Yet, despite their near-universal popularity among Southerners, fried chicken and watermelon keep being associated with poor blacks.

YogSosoth insists it's a harmless stereotype. I'm willing to bet that Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Haley Barbour and Jimmy Carter, among others, have eaten as much fried chicken and watermelon as anyone, but somehow they don't get associated with it.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:14 PM
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From wikipedia:

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When it was introduced to the American South, fried chicken became a common staple. Later, as the slave trade led to Africans being brought to work on southern plantations, the slaves who became cooks incorporated seasonings and spices that were absent in traditional Scottish cuisine, enriching the flavor.[7] Since most slaves were unable to raise expensive meats, but generally allowed to keep chickens, frying chicken on special occasions spread through the African American communities of the South. It endured the fall of slavery and gradually passed into common use as a general Southern dish. Since fried chicken traveled well in hot weather before refrigeration was commonplace, it gained further favor in the periods of American history when segregation closed off most restaurants to the black population. Fried chicken continues to be among this region's top choices for "Sunday dinner" among both blacks and whites. Holidays such as Independence Day and other gatherings often feature this dish.[8]

Since the American Civil War, traditional slave foods like fried chicken, watermelon, and chitterlings have suffered a strong association with African American stereotypes and blackface minstrelsy.[9] This was commercialized for the first half of the 20th century by restaurants like Sambo's and Coon Chicken Inn, which selected exaggerated depictions of blacks as mascots, implying quality by their association with the stereotype. Although also being acknowledged positively as "soul food" today, the affinity that African American culture has for fried chicken has been considered a delicate, often pejorative issue. While the perception of fried chicken as an ethnic dish has been fading for several decades, what with the ubiquity of fried chicken dishes in the US, it persists as a racial stereotype.[10][11][12][13]
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:17 PM
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Let's put it this way. I grew up in the South, and later lived there as an adult. Fried chicken was a universal meal. I didn't know anyone, rich, poor or someone in the middle, who didn't have fried chicken at least once a week. For that matter, it was pretty darn popular in the Midwest, as well.

Watermelon? Who didn't enjoy a fresh slice of watermelon on a hot summer day?

Yet, despite their near-universal popularity among Southerners, fried chicken and watermelon keep being associated with poor blacks.

YogSosoth insists it's a harmless stereotype. I'm willing to bet that Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Haley Barbour and Jimmy Carter, among others, have eaten as much fried chicken and watermelon as anyone, but somehow they don't get associated with it.
Yeah, that's why I can't figure it out. Yes, it's an offensive stereotype, but it doesn't make any sense. The stereotype that Mexicans eat tortillas and beans makes sense, because that's what they eat. The stereotype that Chinese people eat rice makes sense, because they actually eat a lot of rice. But if everyone in America is gobbling up chicken and watermelon, why would we make up a stereotype those Negroes like chicken and watermelon more than white people? It's just weird.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:27 PM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pyW6w5B7Aw

Hell, when Popeye's Chicken in Rochester, NY ran out of chicken during a special promotion the news reported on it. Just read the comments from some of the people who watched the video.

There are a lot of racial stereotypes that I didn't really understand growing up. Fried chicken and blacks in the United States was one of them.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:12 PM
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Several factors:
Fried chicken is more of a Southern thing. If you go to South Carolina or Georgia, you will find KFC, Church's Popeye's and Bojangle's all over the place. There are probably others as well, but those jumped out at me. Tyson is headquartered in Arkansas, and it is hard to fly in an airplane south of the M-D line without being able to spot a chicken farm at any given time.

In my town KFC and Church's struggle with a few stores, but those are enough to saturate what market there is. Popeye's opened a few stores in Albuquerque, and were gone within a couple of years. One is now a burger joint, and another is a pretty good pizza and pasta place. There is a local outfit, Golden Pride Chicken that has a few stores and does well, but they probably sell more ribs, burritos, and enchiladas as they do chicken.

It just so happens that many southerners are black. Many southern families have moved northward. The white ones lost their accents within a generation and you can't tell without being told that their families have Southern roots, and just by looking you couldn't tell the first generation even. The black ones retain their pigmentation for many generations, even with racial mixing. So when you just _look_ at who is buying chicken blacks probably are over represented.

The next thing is that chicken is pretty cheap. Black's earn, on average, less than white folks. The clientel at KFC is going to skew toward the lower income end of the spectrum, so Blacks are going to be over represented again.

Lastly, fried chicken isn't the healthiest of foods. Historically blacks and poor people have had less concern with healthy eating and/or worried about obesity..."soul food" is often pretty fatty. Given that many Blacks are also poor, you would expect them to be over represented in chicken consumption.

Now my lilly white dieting ass is craving fried chicken. Serves me right.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
Yeah, that's why I can't figure it out. Yes, it's an offensive stereotype, but it doesn't make any sense. The stereotype that Mexicans eat tortillas and beans makes sense, because that's what they eat. The stereotype that Chinese people eat rice makes sense, because they actually eat a lot of rice. But if everyone in America is gobbling up chicken and watermelon, why would we make up a stereotype those Negroes like chicken and watermelon more than white people? It's just weird.
Read the post immediately above yours. Coon Chicken Inn, anyone?
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:32 PM
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My students don't live in the South and they all talk about friend chicken and green beans and watermelon as favorite/often eaten foods. All of the boys in my room the other day were fighting each other to tell me the 'best' way to make chicken.

The Latino kids call themselves Beaners and joke about eating beans.

If my black students - who have never even been south of Colorado Springs - can talk about their affection for fried chicken, be it mom's or Popeye's, why is it bad to associate the food with them? And why the hell is it negative? I don't get insulted when someone pairs me with gefilte fish, which is THE poor man's fish. It's a ghetto meal. And yet we still eat that nasty shit out of...cultural habit, I guess. There are upper class families who eat it often for Shabbos and they've never been to Poland or places where it originated. So stop with the 'it's a culturally <geographical area> tradition, so it's wrong to say' stuff. Fried chicken is ALWAYS a favorite lunch meal the metro area and it is often served in urban areas for community/outreach/special events.

Last edited by Farmer Jane; 11-02-2011 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:40 PM
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Yeah, that's why I can't figure it out. Yes, it's an offensive stereotype, but it doesn't make any sense.
It make sense if blacks all over the country seem to like fried chicken more than everyone else.

Quote:
The stereotype that Mexicans eat tortillas and beans makes sense, because that's what they eat.
I just about fell out of my chair! First generation immigrants love Mickey D's and sushi as much as the next person. Their parents may cook beans and tortillas, and yes, they love those foods too (especially because it's cheap), but is a third generation Chicano likely to be eating beans every night? So "Beaner" is OK but "blacks love fried chicken" isn't?! And have you noticed the love of Mexican food has skyrocketed since the 70s? No one cares if you love tacos! Everyone loves tacos!

Quote:
The stereotype that Chinese people eat rice makes sense, because they actually eat a lot of rice.
Again...rural v. urban...and doesn't Japan consume more rice, actually?

Quote:
But if everyone in America is gobbling up chicken and watermelon, why would we make up a stereotype those Negroes like chicken and watermelon more than white people? It's just weird.
Did you just say 'Negroes'?!

Last edited by Farmer Jane; 11-02-2011 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:00 PM
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Personally I'm tired of the stereotype of black people rioting over everything, while all the other minority groups are supposedly "good" when it comes to their stereotyping.

That is all I've got to say on this tired, talked-to-death subject.

<goes to the kitchen to eat some fried chicken>
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:07 PM
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Maybe some groups are overly sensitive and need to get the hell over it.

Anyone for spaghetti?
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:10 PM
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Look, I really don't want to ruffle your feathers, but since you brought it up - it's not really a stereotype about the blacks rioting, is it? Many, many major riots in American cities in the past few decades were predominantly black, right? It's not that "black people like to riot," but just that black enclaves in cities with severe economic problems do it.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:25 PM
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And nobody cares to eat Dutch, expecially Dutch treat ..........
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:00 PM
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Look, I really don't want to ruffle your feathers, but since you brought it up - it's not really a stereotype about the blacks rioting, is it? Many, many major riots in American cities in the past few decades were predominantly black, right? It's not that "black people like to riot," but just that black enclaves in cities with severe economic problems do it.
Most riots in American history have been committed by whites.

Most race riots in America have been committed by whites.

So yes, "blacks will riot!" is a stereotype.

This is a great read, if you're at all interested in the subject of American race riots.

It's not just "the blacks will riot" stereotype that I'm tired of. I'm also tired of this idea that black people are always on the verge of violence, just ready to beat someone down for saying the "wrong" thing. In all my life, I have never seen a black person get violent when a white person says something offensive. Angry, yes. But everyone gets angry when someone is being stupid around them.

It's like a lot of people think black people are set to "attack" mode and we are unable to let crap just roll off our backs like everyone else does. Or it's like people don't understand that just because a black person doesn't like something (like people always talking about black people and fried chicken...or being cold...or not drinking coffee), that they are angry. Being annoyed is different than being angry.

And it's funny, because at least around here you hardly ever see angry race-related rantings by black posters.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:17 PM
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The offensive part isn't the notion that black folks like fried chicken. Of course they do; so does everyone. The offensive part is the notion that black folks find fried chicken completely irresistible: That a black person, on being presented with fried chicken, will lose all vestige of humanity and do anything to try to get it.
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:57 PM
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Most riots in American history have been committed by whites.

Most race riots in America have been committed by whites.

So yes, "blacks will riot!" is a stereotype.
....

It's not just "the blacks will riot" stereotype that I'm tired of. I'm also tired of this idea that black people are always on the verge of violence, just ready to beat someone down for saying the "wrong" thing. In all my life, I have never seen a black person get violent when a white person says something offensive. Angry, yes. But everyone gets angry when someone is being stupid around them.
First part, true, but if you're talking about history as in older than 30 or 40 years, that makes it pretty irrelevant to most people nowadays. I can't remember any race riot started by whites in my lifetime. But the Rodney King riots are burned into peoples' minds, as are several other incidents over the past two decades.

Second part, absolutely true. But I do think blacks have more tough people among them who are likely to stand up for themselves when insulted, which is a good thing in my book, not a bad one.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:02 PM
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The offensive part isn't the notion that black folks like fried chicken. Of course they do; so does everyone. The offensive part is the notion that black folks find fried chicken completely irresistible: That a black person, on being presented with fried chicken, will lose all vestige of humanity and do anything to try to get it.
See post #16.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
All ethnic groups have stereotypical foods, but only black people are taught to associate that stereotypical foods with insults.
Cough Cough, Frogs vs Rosbifs.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:32 PM
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First part, true, but if you're talking about history as in older than 30 or 40 years, that makes it pretty irrelevant to most people nowadays. I can't remember any race riot started by whites in my lifetime. But the Rodney King riots are burned into peoples' minds, as are several other incidents over the past two decades.
But the major race riots perpetuated by black people--the Watts, Newark/Detroit, and the Rodney King riots--were all sparked by perceived (and real) police brutality. Not the result of people throwing out the n-word or laughing at black people's love for fried chicken. Or a myriad of other small things that black people roll with every day. I'm not saying that black people have never rioted or that there's never been over-the-top violence in response to racism, but it's stupid to pretend that black people have a history of rioting over racial insults. This is patently untrue, and it also plays into the racist stereotype of black people being wild and crazy. I love how everyone in the thread just glosses over this line in the OP:

Quote:
Originally Posted by OP
But bring up the fact that black people like fried chicken or watermelons, and you'll have a riot.
Not only is it not literally true, it's not even true figuratively. Because if it were true, all the black Dopers would be piling into this thread and others like it, posting crazy walls of text and being all indignant. But the fact that this rarely happens is never used as evidence of black people being calm and rational like everyone else. I'm wondering why this is the case.

Quote:
Second part, absolutely true. But I do think blacks have more tough people among them who are likely to stand up for themselves when insulted, which is a good thing in my book, not a bad one.
Well, I'm glad you think it's admirable. I think it's a rather insulting to be thought of as a brute thug rather than a level-headed individual. But we've been around this mulberry bush a couple of times, haven't we?
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:05 PM
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To the OP: are you Chinese-American, or Chinese from China? I think that while it's not offensive to assume that someone from China has certain food preferences, I would imagine it'd be offensive if you were to tell someone who was born and raised here that they "must like chow mein and egg rolls" because they look Asian.

I guess maybe that's just me. I dunno. But as an Asian-American, if someone automatically assumed that I must like Asian food- at least at a level beyond how most people like Asian food- I'd be a little offended, or at least put off, since, you know, I was born here and raised on hamburgers and pizza like every other red-blooded American (and for that matter, I have absolutely no love for stinky tofu and pretty much think the stuff should be used as fertilizer).

At the heart of it, I think it's the assumption that there's something "foreign" about people of color, even people of color who are just as American as any Caucasian person. Add on top of that decades of insulting caricatures of blacks eating watermelon and fried chicken, and I think you've got a racial stereotype that's especially offensive.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:55 PM
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iirc, There was a Slate article years ago that said back people who were polled associated fried chicken with their culture. As an Asian-American (and I'm not quite sure what that means) do you have a subculture with certain foods?

One thing I've noticed is that 'stereotypes' of certain kinds are with black people everywhere. It's not geographically limited. Take AAVE, for example. What may have started as a Southern dialect is now a black one. You can be in Kansas or Detroit, but 99 per cent of the type, AAVE is used among African Americans. I think it's an identity thing. There's nothing wrong with that.
  #33  
Old 11-03-2011, 12:50 AM
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I grew up with a ton of pork, variety of vegetables, cabbage, sometimes all thrown into a pot as my dinner. I can tell people that and they can guess my heritage, it is a non racist thing.
That sounds like a lot of my cooking these days. And if you guessed my heritage based on that, you'd be wrong.

And I also like grape soda.

Last edited by panache45; 11-03-2011 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
I can understand why saying "Asians have slanted eyes" is offensive, even if some of us do. Its an insult because you're telling us we're ugly.
Instead of "ugly," would you rather be called "exotic"?
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:58 AM
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Yeah, I can hardly think of any heritage that couldn't be described by "pork, veggies, and cabbage all thrown in a pot". Well, I guess not Jewish or Muslim, but not much beyond that.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:42 AM
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Ah, racial food stereotypes. A topic near and dear to my heart living here. At least once a day, I'm told--not asked, mind you, but told--that I cannot handle spicy food because I'm not Korean. It doesn't matter that I've been eating Korean food far longer than the persons telling me that. It doesn't matter that in my home state, the food is quite often much more spicy than Korean food could ever hope to be.

But I have a cure for the problem. Whenever I have to go to a 외식 [way-sheek/staff dinner], I always take with me a habanero chili. Every time someone tells me (again, tells me; they don't ask me) that I can't handle spicy food, I simply take a bite of the chili, nod in agreement, mutter, "Of course, you're correct." Then I offer the chili to the person who's appointed himself my teacher on non-Korean culinary matters. Then I laugh myself silly as the person bolts for the water cooler. Good fun, that. One of my Korean friends described her experience with the habanero as, "It was like I was actually eating fire from a volcano."

As panache45 said, all racial stereotypes are offensive. It doesn't matter if it's a so-called "positive" stereotype or any other kind. It's offensive because it's assigning characteristics to a person that the person may not have based on the person's membership in a group. And that person may not even be a member of the group the person doing the assigning believes.
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Old 11-03-2011, 04:00 AM
Omg a Black Conservative Omg a Black Conservative is offline
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I love fried chicken and kool-aid. Watermelon? Not so much. Yes, blasphemy, I know.

Still, I think the people who get offended by stereotypes, much less food stereotypes, are a riot.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:17 AM
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I don't think it's necessarily food associations with a given race or culture that are offensive, so much as food stereotypes that reinforce a particular image.

Saying that a Chinese or Japanese person probably likes rice isn't offensive, it's awareness of the culture that, yes, rice is a very big part of the culture, is very important in their meals, and is generally considered a staple food there. It would be like being offended because somebody assumed an average American likes bread, eggs, or milk. Sure, not everyone does, and some have intolerance, but they're "staple foods" around here and if you're from this culture then it's very likely that you enjoy them, even if they're not your favorite foods.

Fried Chicken and Watermelon, on the other hand doesn't really fall into the same category. Perpetuating the stereotype that black people like them is insinuating that it's their "staple food" when it's really not, it's not a common food that is consumed by all, and it has insinuations of lower class (cheap or unhealthy for the most part). Insinuating most American black people probably like bread, eggs and milk would probably be fine, it's the insinuation that greasy, cheap, or generally low-class food is part of their "staple diet" that's insulting.

Now, there's some grey area, Korea being the land of Kimchi straddles the border of stereotyping and truth, and probably the only reason it's NOT offensive is that most Koreans are rather good sports about it (many of the jokes even being self-inflicted), but in general I think the delineation is between politely acknowledging that a food is a staple of that culture and insinuating that less common foods (McDonalds, fried chicken, whatever), or foods that are notorious for one reason or another (poor quality, unhealthy, derives from slave connotations) are a culture's "staple."

Last edited by Jragon; 11-03-2011 at 05:19 AM.
  #39  
Old 11-03-2011, 07:14 AM
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I think "black people and fried chicken" is treated differently than the other racial/ethnic food stereotypes because of history. Almost all stereotypes of black Americans are tainted by slavery.

If you ever watch old films of minstrel acts, you'll often see the whites in black face stealing chickens and celebrating their bounty by dancing and eating watermelons. So lurking behind the "chicken" stereotype are additional stereotypes involving criminality and buffoonery. Other racial stereotypes do not have this double-image.

A lot of black people eat low on the hog. Chitterlings and pig's feet, for instance. Again, these are cultural artifacts from slavery, when black people were given scraps off of Massa's dinner table. I admit that it embarrasses me sometimes when I catch my mother eating chitterlings. Not only are they unhealthy and unpleasant to my senses, but knowing how they got into our culture makes them unpalatable to me.

I honestly don't think there's another ethnic/racial group that's as stereotyped as much as black people are in this country. We can talk about how the Irish are stereotyped as being hot-tempered and devoutly religious...or how Jews are stereotyped as bookish and greedy...or how Asians are stereotyped as studious and well-mannered. But these stereotypes do not carry the same weight as those relating to black people...and it has nothing to do with black people's oversensitivity. For most of this country's history, black stereotyping was rampant and went unchallenged. It is only relatively recently when black people have held enough of the microphone to be able to say, "Alright, we need to stop this!" But the stereotypes are so enmeshed in our culture that they have been accepted as "truth". So simply saying "stop" is now "making a big deal out of nothing." No, it's an expression of frustration about an entire history of stereotyping. Once people start understanding that black Americans have had a history that's totally different than what other ethnic/racial groups have experienced, they will realize why this group handles things differently than other ethnic/racial groups. Intimitating that they are hysterical or oversensitive simply because other stereotypes don't carry the same baggage shows a lack of understanding.
  #40  
Old 11-03-2011, 07:15 AM
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when there's a plethora of offensive imagery along the lines of this relating to Chinese eating chow-mein or Mexicans eating tortillas, you'll have a point, OP. Not before.
  #41  
Old 11-03-2011, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
Racial food stereotypes are offensive because all racial stereotypes are offensive.
Except when you're doing it about Brits and their food. That shit's comedy gold.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Yeah, I can hardly think of any heritage that couldn't be described by "pork, veggies, and cabbage all thrown in a pot". Well, I guess not Jewish or Muslim, but not much beyond that.
Goulash, I should have been more specific with the quality of the meat.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:57 AM
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. Whenever I have to go to a 외식 [way-sheek/staff dinner], I always take with me a habanero chili...
Is that a habanero in your pocket...?


mmm
  #44  
Old 11-03-2011, 10:14 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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At the heart of it, I think it's the assumption that there's something "foreign" about people of color, even people of color who are just as American as any Caucasian person. Add on top of that decades of insulting caricatures of blacks eating watermelon and fried chicken, and I think you've got a racial stereotype that's especially offensive.
Here it is. It's like someone telling me as an Indian that I "must eat a lot of curry" or "I'm surprised you eat American food at home! I figured you ate curry all the time" both of which I have heard.

I'm American and it's just a way to make me other. And so can you imagine what black people must feel, being even more a part of this country's heritage and still made to feel "other"?

Monty I never feel that there just because people are white they can't handle spicy food. Another name for vindaloo we use is "spicy stuff so hot only white people will eat it".
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:03 PM
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Tiger Woods won the Masters, the most prestigious tournament in golf. He had won several Amateur championships as well. By tradition, the previous winner of the Masters, Fuzzy Zoeller, got to choose the menu for the award banquet. Tiger's mother was from Thailand, he was raised in suburban Southern California, and he attended Stanford. What did Fuzzy choose to serve? Fried chicken. The fact that Tiger's father was black trumped everything else about him. All Fuzzy could see was the color of Tiger's skin. What did Tiger serve the next year when he hosted? Cheeseburgers and milkshakes: his actual favorites.

Last edited by fumster; 11-03-2011 at 12:03 PM.
  #46  
Old 11-04-2011, 10:17 PM
Ibn Warraq Ibn Warraq is offline
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Originally Posted by sh1bu1 View Post
Tiger Woods won the Masters, the most prestigious tournament in golf. He had won several Amateur championships as well. By tradition, the previous winner of the Masters, Fuzzy Zoeller, got to choose the menu for the award banquet. Tiger's mother was from Thailand, he was raised in suburban Southern California, and he attended Stanford. What did Fuzzy choose to serve? Fried chicken. The fact that Tiger's father was black trumped everything else about him. All Fuzzy could see was the color of Tiger's skin. What did Tiger serve the next year when he hosted? Cheeseburgers and milkshakes: his actual favorites.
Nitpick.

Zoeller didn't choose the menu nor had he won the Masters the year before.

He was asked about Tiger Woods and he said, "He's doing quite well, pretty impressive. That little boy is driving well and he's putting well. He's doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it. Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."

In short, Zoeller's behavior was even more offensive than you suggest.

Also, in addition to his comments about Woods eating fried chicken and collard greens he referred to Woods as a "boy" which has all sorts of historical connotations.
  #47  
Old 11-05-2011, 02:13 AM
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In short, Zoeller's behavior was even more offensive than you suggest.
Ugh, that is worse than I mis-remembered.
  #48  
Old 11-05-2011, 09:00 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
But its harmless!

I can understand why saying "Asians have slanted eyes" is offensive, even if some of us do. Its an insult because you're telling us we're ugly. Same goes with offensive words like kike or chink. The words themselves are meaningless, but we attribute meaning to it because they were created to be offensive so we take it as such
You just answered your own question. The fried-chicken-and-watermelon stereotype is offensive because it's meant to be offensive, in the same way that a nonsensical word like "kike" is offensive. It was part of an entire culture that had an elaborate and powerful institutional mechanism for demeaning black people. Picking out one thing in isolation and saying "but it's harmless!" is meaningless. It's also exactly what the people using these cultural stereotypes as weapons would say. Objectively speaking, what's wrong with the word "nigger"? Nothing. It's just a variation of "negro," a latinate word for the color "black." What's wrong with that? The problem is that in order to make this argument, you have to ignore the entire history of institutionalized and cultural racism in this society. Fried chicken and watermelon is part of it, and you'll never "get" what's going on if you ignore the context.

And fried chicken and watermelon is part of the same dynamic in which people make fun of African-American names and clothing fashions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
Here it is. It's like someone telling me as an Indian that I "must eat a lot of curry" or "I'm surprised you eat American food at home! I figured you ate curry all the time" both of which I have heard.

I'm American and it's just a way to make me other. And so can you imagine what black people must feel, being even more a part of this country's heritage and still made to feel "other"?
"That's such a pretty name! Does it mean something? I hope you will forgive me if I don't try to pronounce it; it don't want to get it wrong! Where are you from?" == You don't belong here.
  #49  
Old 11-05-2011, 10:45 AM
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Maybe some groups are overly sensitive and need to get the hell over it.

Anyone for spaghetti?
Don't you think that it has a little bit to do with the ability for Democrats to accuse their political enemies of bad things?

Just a little...... c'mon!!!!!????
  #50  
Old 11-05-2011, 01:23 PM
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Then I laugh myself silly as the person bolts for the water cooler. Good fun, that. One of my Korean friends described her experience with the habanero as, "It was like I was actually eating fire from a volcano."
Seriously? Man. I was having curry the other day, and I went 'hey, this is actually spicy this time, what did you put in it', and my mother answered 'habaneros fresh from the farm.' I didn't think they were actually that spicy.

Huh. Probably explains why I don't think picante sauce is all that interesting either.

Anyhow, something y'all are neglecting is that both chickens and watermelon have a somewhat older meaning than just 'soul food'. As the JBs said, "Why do we like soul food? Cause it tastes soooo goood. Pass the peas." But chicken and watermelon, specifically, weren't just the sort of thing you had every day as a sharecropper. Nope. They were special treats. Cause you could sneak out like a fox, grab some of each, and run like hell.

They're specifically aligned with being stolen food. Like apples from a neighbor's tree for a northeasterner. That's a big part of the insulting part.
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