Why is fried chicken racist in the USA?

Inspired by this thread.

So fried chicken is racist in the USA? Why? My mind boggles. I thought the commentators on the linked video were spectacularly drivelsome and so cut them short.

Educate me.

Fried Chicken is not racist in and of itself.

Neither is Watermelon.

But there is a stereotype that says that black people like Fried Chicken and Watermelon. It is thus possible to exploit that stereotype in a racist way.

It’s a stereotyped poor-people-food for residents of the southeastern US.
Black = Poor is apparently racist.

“Black people like fried chicken” is a stereotype in the US.

However, I think any ad, in the US, that had a white guy handing out something to a black crowd to calm them down would be construed as racist.

Wikipedia has a pretty good answer to this question. See this article, the History section.

I presume you mean


Even relatively recent American history is replete with images like this.

It’s sometimes hard for even younger Americans to understand just how prevalent certain racist depictions were, and how late. They were making Gator-Bait figurines and postcards into the 1970s. My mother had little Mammy and Pappy salt and pepper shakers in the kitchen in the 70s (though they dated to the previous decade). Aunt Jemima herself, until the late 80s, was a Mammy stereotype, and this was one of the (if not THE) most popular pancake mixes/syrups in the country.

The US is really not that far from a particularly nasty racial past as it wants to think.

ETA: And don’t forget the Republican party operative who sent out the email with the picture of the White House surrounded by watermelon fields. In 200-frickin’-9!

I do media buying and a client I used to work with was a fried chicken chain (not one of the two big ones). Their demographic for advertising was African Americans and we were directed to purchase time in black-skewed programming (think most sitcoms on UPN).

Blacks as a generality eat a lot of chicken, ribs and fish. That is a description of their eating habits. It is not a critique.
Most kielbasa is eaten by Polish people. My Scotch ancestors eat tripe ,shoefly pie and Scotch Bridies. English people drink a lot of tea. So what.

Well, if you grew up in the US during the 60s like I did then you would know - black people will do anything for fried chicken and/or watermelon. I am joking of course but this type of thing was a very common at one time and not really all that uncommon now. How is it that everybody in the US knows that jokes about black people and fried chicken are inappropriate unless they have encountered those jokes? It’s fun to make fun of the foods others eat.

At work just the other day I was talking to a black woman while she microwaved her lunch. As she pulled her fried chicken and collard greens out of the oven she felt the need to give me a rueful grin and say: “I know, I’m a stereotype.”

I’m from a long line of white trash and I’d love for a black/white/candy stripe person to hand me some fried chicken or watermelon or whatever was handy right now; I’m starving and its too damn cold to go out and buy food. (None of this is racist, by the way)

Dave Chappelle explains:


Does “everybody in the US” know that? I can clearly remember the first time I heard of the stereotype; I was 25 and a woman on the radio was talking about her husband and his utter refusal to eat watermelon or fried chicken. I was totally confused. Luckily they explained it. I’ve heard references to such jokes since–like this thread–but I have never actually heard anyone make those jokes.

I think the best example was the Little Rascals, whenever chicken or watermellon were around, they were always offered first to Buckwheat, to his universal, wide-eyed joy. I don’t know of any other overtly stereotypical portrayals in media, but I’m sure there are some other examples.

Another Chappelle skit related to that one.

From reading your posts, I think we are somewhat close in age, and though I grew up in one of the least racially diverse major cities in the US (Salt Lake in the 1980’s had almost no black minority to speak of) I remember seeing this particular stereotype in various movies and TV shows, including a MASH episode…

It is pretty well known, even in areas without a large black population.

Other common stereotypes (though perhaps not as pervasive as chicken & watermelon) would include fried catfish, chitterlings (chitlins), ribs, grape-flavored soda or “drink,” maybe collard greens.

Forgot about that whole thing with Fuzzy Zoeller when Tiger Woods won at the Masters?

The problematic stereotype isn’t “black people eat fried chicken,” it’s “black people can’t get enough of dat chicken!”

The “fried chicken” concept is tied to perceptions of blacks as uncouth, poor, and animalistic in habit.

Saying “fried chicken is popular in black communities” shouldn’t be controversial because it’s true and a perfectly fine part of black cultural heritage. It IS, however, controversial because it cuts too close to the ugly, patronizing stereotypes that have really only faded out in the past few decades.

In related news, you’re probably going to have trouble finding many sentences that start with “blacks as a generality…” that go over well.