Social Question

rockfan's avatar

California high school recently served fried chicken, collard greens, and watermelon for lunch to celebrate Black History Month. Is that racist?

Asked by rockfan (3431 points ) February 10th, 2014

Or just insensitive?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Tasty mmm… fried chicken.. I just ordered Pizza Hut. One medium pizza cheese lovers.

JLeslie's avatar

Are you sure this really happened recently? This happened a few years ago at the NBC cafeteria. When I first heard it reported I did not feel it was racist, but a lot of people did. It turned out the woman who had created the menu at NBC was a black woman who was excited about presenting those foods for black history month. Still people felt it was racist, even after finding out a black woman was the one who thought of the idea. Those foods are actually eaten by many southerners, not just black southerners. Of course black people at a large variety of foods like everyone else now, but I don’t see a problem serving those foods in a historical sense.

The reason I am surprised to hear this happened recenty is because the NBC incident made national news and I would think after that any institution would be afraid to do such a thing fearing backlash.

ibstubro's avatar

You are inevitably going to be asked for verification or a link to this story, @rockfan. It sounds so urban myth.

CWOTUS's avatar

It must be, since someone was offended.

kritiper's avatar

No. It’s lunch. I eat peanuts but that doesn’t make me a squirrel. Serving grits in the South isn’t considered racist, is it? If someone served me the meal you described, I would enjoy eating some things that I have never had but have heard of. Looks to fall under the heading of “Social Studies.”

JLeslie's avatar

I just read the link and it’s a shame those foods produce such negative feelings for some. Comparing fried chicken to black face? I never thought of it as comparable. I wonder how many people think of it that way? We all still enjoy fried chicken in America every day. One of the local meals I miss since I left Memphis is Gus’s friend chicken which is unbelievable! It was written up as one of the ten places you must eat before you die. It was listed with restaurants in France and Italy.

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @rockfan. Apparently it was just insensitive.

I don’t think it was the individual foods as the paring and officially tying them to Black History Month, @JLeslie. Had they paired the chicken and greens with, say, the Southern staple of pecan pie, the whole mess might have been avoided.

Cruiser's avatar

This is ridiculous and sad commentary on how impossible it has become to do anything simple or say something without running the risk of being racist or insensitive. My wife and in-laws are Jewish and now I must be an anti-Semite and insensitive for serving them Christmas ham at my Christmas eve dinner to showcase the traditions of my heritage, faith and upbringing.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro It was for black history month. The point was to offer traditional foods black people ate. Trying to offer pecan pie to make it more southern than black doesn’t really make sense.

Smitha's avatar

It’s just insensitive. This is not a racist meal, all these items happen to be on everybody’s menu, not just any particular segment of the culture. Eating those foods are not the problem, its the false association. If people are looking for something racist, they will always find it somewhere or the other.

JLeslie's avatar

@Smitha Is it a false association?

talljasperman's avatar

@talljasperman I stayed upstairs the whole time instead of waiting, in the cold, outside worrying about my pizza. Yea team Jasper.

Pachy's avatar

I don’t think it was intentionally racist—just a bad decision.

zenvelo's avatar

That high school is local to me, I know kid that have gone there, mostly white upper class sheltered girls (it’s a Catholic girl’s school) who didn’t mean anything evil, but were insensitive and not too bright.

I thought about this a bit; really, the whole concept of a “black” meal is insensitive. While Black History month is a recognition of the contribution African Americans made towards the success of the United States, much of that history was overshadowed by racial oppression. Such meals are not a celebration of culture as much as a symbol of when they were deliberately kept apart from white America.

And really, watermelon? That is a racial stereotype.

ibstubro's avatar

@JLeslie Fried chicken, collard greens and watermelon are all plantation food. Included in the news story that was the verification link. The American South is synonymous oftentimes with racial prejudice, so my premise was that associating a common Southern desert with Blacks would have destigmatized the menu.

hearkat's avatar

Those items are often classified as “soul food”, and can be purchased in restaurants specializing in that type of cuisine. When I worked in an hospital with a high diversity of patients and staff, no one got offended when the cafeteria had Soul Food day, or Mexican food day, or Italian food day etc. Was it in how they presented it?

ibstubro's avatar

The audience was the governor in that case, @hearkat, I believe.

talljasperman's avatar

@talljasperman Finished one half of the cheese lover pizza and put the remainder in the freezer.

filmfann's avatar

Carondelet High School is here in Concord, California. It is an all-girls athletics-focused Catholic high school, and companion school to De La Salle, (the Nation’s #1 football high school) which sits right next door.
Was it stupid, racist, and insensitive? Sure! It’s still a High School, and that’s how it’s always been.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m finding @talljasperman‘s updates about his pizza more fascinating than the thread topic.

GloPro's avatar

As a southerner transplanted to California, I wish they would have more collard greens around here in general! Hooray for soul food… If they put it on the menu more often no one would associate it with racism. It’s FOOD, people, and good food, at that. Shut up and eat up!

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro Ok, then nix the watermellon. I’m fine with that.

Most of the objection to a menu like this I perceive as PC people trying to say black people eat a variety of food and stereotyping black people as eating only very specific foods is racist. When I say objection, I mean objection at large, not fluther objection. But, a menu like that is not saying American blacks only eat that food, it is food with historical significance. If the watermellon is racist to anyone and everyone then they should take it off the menu.

Funny, I remember talking to someone about the lack of good ethnic food in the Memphis area and a friend of mine said southerners tend to take pride in their southerness, not the country their families came from, and the food reflects it.

If they served potato latkes on Chanukah I doubt anyone would object. However, if a lot of black people are very offended by the menu I think we should not do it. We have to trust that the minority the,selves know when something is offensive to them. They can serve fried chicken and greens in May or November when people won’t associate it with racism.

livelaughlove21's avatar

No, but it sounds delicious.

“Just cuz I eat chicken and watermelon, they think something’s wrong with me. Let me tell you something, if you don’t like chicken and watermelon, then something is wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you!”

Amen, Mr. Chapelle. Well said. :)

ibstubro's avatar

I have an adorably racist antique glass statue of a happy little black boy sitting down eating ¼ of a watermelon.

Ignoring history does not negate it.

Blackberry's avatar

Some people have lived in a homogenous culture for so long that they’re culturally illiterate to others. It may not have been malicious (because who would do such a public act just to anger people?), but it may have just been extremely clueless sheltered white people lol.

Adagio's avatar

I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. If NZ celebrated a Maori history month, which it doesn’t, and a meal was served of traditional Maori food I can’t imagine anybody objecting or being offended.

ibstubro's avatar

NA, @Adagio.

We’re talking about stereotypes here. In the States we don’t know Maori, or even NZ, but we know the black American buzz words. Watermelon being, perhaps, #1.

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