Why do alarm bells go of whenever people talk about how black people just love fried chicken and watermelon?
Hey friends, It’s Franchesca, here to confirm once and for all, that yes, everyone loves fried chicken.
(Eating a piece of friend chicken) Yum!
The chances are you’ve heard the black people, fried chicken, and watermelon stereotype before. Recently a prom proposal went viral on Twitter because apparently the correct way to ask a black guy to prom is to woo him with fried chicken and… racism?
Now, let’s get this straight. There’s nothing wrong with liking fried chicken or watermelon. I mean, there are over 4,000 KFCs in China, and watermelon is quite possibly the most perfect fruit.
(Eating a slice of watermelon) Mmm! Oh my god.
But no black person is safe from this stereotype. Tiger Woods has had fried chicken dinner comments thrown his way by two separate pro golfers, and in 2014, the Boston Herald came under fire for running a political cartoon asking President Obama about watermelon toothpaste.
So if everyone loves fried chicken and watermelon, not just black people, where the heck did these stereotypes even come from?
Let’s start with fried chicken. From the late 1800s onward, fried chicken was used to portray black people as savages. Films like Birth of a Nation and Jim Crow imagery seen in cartoons, postcards and ads featured black people as rowdy, barbaric slaves gleefully eating chicken with their bare hands.
Fried chicken became the go-to way to make black people look like animals. But the savage, chicken-loving black person wasn’t just a stereotype of the distant past. Until the late 1950s, there was a successful restaurant chain literally called The Coon Chicken Inn. No, that’s not cool.
Watermelon was used to show black people as lazy and simple. Postcards, cartoons, books, and advertisements featured black folks happily eating watermelon in spite of slavery. The idea being black people don’t need rights, they’re happy just as long as they have some watermelon.
(Eating a watermelon slice) Mmm, tastes like oppression.
So are we just supposed to stop eating certain foods because of history?
Of course not.
But when homegirl asks her black classmate to prom using fried chicken and this, that’s almost like saying, “Will you go to prom with me, you lazy, savage animal?” Ooh, not cute.
Look, when you automatically link fried chicken and watermelon with black people, you’re bringing all that baggage along with it, even if you don’t realize it.
It’s also important to remember that not every stereotype is created equally. Take for example, white girls and Starbucks. Now, not every white girl loves Starbucks.
(Drinking from a large coffee cup) Mmm, nonfat skinny mocha latte, no whip. So good.
That joke isn’t keeping anyone from having equal rights.
The difference is when you mix stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and institutional power, like schools, government, police, and laws. Those elements combined is what makes a stereotype racist.
So next time you’re heading out to lunch or you need something for your barbecue, you don’t have to skip the fried chicken or watermelon. Just make sure you’re not doing it because black people are going to be there.
The only reason that you need is because it’s delicious.
(Takes a bite from a piece of fried chicken) Mmm, okay, yes.
Can you think of any other food stereotypes? School me in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe.
And if you want more information, there are tons of great links in the description box. See you next Wednesday.
(Pointing to the chicken and looking towards someone behind the camera) Wait, this is tofu? Mmm, yes!