If there’s one thing we like to do at Holy Taco, aside from desperately seeking attention, it’s get under people’s skin. This is total insider stuff, but 9 times out of 10 if someone posted a negative comment on an article, we weren’t so stupid as to not see your criticism coming, we do stuff to piss people off on purpose. We take jabs at the right all the time, we flaunt insensitive language, we mock celebrities and we sometimes base whole articles around topics that are so inane it boggles the mind. You don’t need to believe we do that on purpose, but it might put the whole website in perspective a bit.
Given that we like to stir the pot, it stands to reason racism is a hot button topic we might want to exploit for fun and profit. Not be racist, mind you (racists are dicks), but play with some of the ideas behind it. Once you pull the curtain back you can’t help but pay attention to the man. So why not do a public service and dig deep into some good, old-fashion American racism and see if we can’t make sense of it all.
The notion of racism, my race is better than yours, is simple to understand. It’s no different than my team being better than yours on the schoolyard, only when your brain developed past the third grade you dropped the idea that you and your friends were king shit but racists never developed that. They’re deeply rooted in believing they won some genetic lottery when, ironically, genetics failed them. But we all know that. What we don’t know is where some of the baggage that racist brings with it came from. And by that I mean food.
Of all the ways in all the world to be racist, relying on food is at once the most idiotic and one of the most common. The name of this article, chicken and watermelon, had to evoke some race-related thoughts and odds are few of us can explain why. Why the hell is chicken racist? Did the Colonel do this? Was one of the 11 herbs and spices white supremacy? Wouldn’t parsley have worked better? To the research department!
As far as history goes, chicken was a big staple in the diet of the American South. When slaves were brought in from Africa, they spiced it up (literally) and fried chicken became the greatest thing the south ever did and probably will ever do. That’s not an insult to anything else from the south, it just means fried chicken is really damn good and anyone who says otherwise is probably a dirty Pinko liar.
Wikipedia, which is as reliable as anything you’ll read on Holy Taco, adds that fried chicken held up well for travel in warm temperatures before refrigeration, when black people weren’t exactly welcome down at the local family restaurant. So they could make chicken and cart that around town easy as you please. Later, savvy restaurateurs who noticed all these black folks cooking chicken, decided to use culturally sensitive depictions of black people to market their own chicken. Check out this menu from the Coon Chicken Inn. That was a real restaurant.
Now here’s the part where you may question how exactly any of this became a negative stereotype for black people, since it stands to reason that there are probably way more white people eating fried chicken in America than black people today. Sure, slaves back in the day may have fine tuned the recipes, but how does that get turned on its head to become fodder for idiotic cartoons of Barack Obama eating a crispy chicken leg on the White House lawn?
The Answer: Racists are kind of dumb.
This isn’t really an oversimplification or a skirting of the issue, it’s actually the reason. However, we have another schoolyard analogy if you like; have you ever heard “if you love it so much why don’t you marry it?” For instance, you express your love of robot dinosaurs and someone, probably with dirty finger nails and ill-fitting pants says “Hurr! If you love Robosaurus so much, why don’t you marry him?” and then maybe he high fives another guy who’s drinking a hard lemonade. This is known as the Idiot Attack. Lacking any solid ground, or even tenuous, shaky ground, on which to cast a verbal attack, the Idiot Attack takes any identifiable characteristic about you and attempts to make it insulting. See also;
“Nice glasses, four eyes!”
“Hey, way to wear pants, pants guy!”
“Way to eat fried chicken, fried chicken lover!”
This Idiot Attack was promoted by some idiot general to a standard battle maneuver and thus was made an insult levied against an entire race of people. Somehow. It still doesn’t make sense but the general observation is that black people were witnessed enjoying chicken, har har, black people enjoy chicken. Extrapolating from this we can mock the Inuit for wearing parkas, white people for tanning and women for having boobs. In fact, a cartoon that features Obama on the White House lawn holding his penis instead of fried chicken makes about as much sense since men are rumored to have wangs. But you can’t question the Idiot Attack this much, it angers and frustrates the idiots.
Watermelon has long suffered much the same fate as chicken, a food that through little more than geography became associated with slaves. One of the few easy slaves had of hitting back at their masters was by pilfering food items; chicken and watermelon being two of the easiest ones to make off with. The stereotype of black people stealing and/or being crazy about watermelon was born from this and eventually grew to the negative association it still inexplicably has to this day. And this all came from the 1800’s.
Two hundred years after the fact, when no one is left alive to remember the origins of the stereotypes and few people who employ them could tell you why they’re supposedly applicable, you actually have the mayor of Los Alamitos drawing up “political cartoons” like the one from 2008 featuring a watermelon patch on the White House lawn, later defended by likeminded idiots who try to claim it’s not actually racist. And it’s a good argument since the idiots can’t be sure why it was racist in the first place.
Let’s get one thing straight, folks. Fried chicken is delicious. So is watermelon. Using either as a gastronomic pejorative is tantamount to celebrating your own brain damage. But it does speak to the root of racism in general and the Idiot Attack – you can’t think of anything to make fun of, you don’t have a reason not to like a person, but you’re an asshole and this was the best you could do.