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Where Did That Fried Chicken Stereotype Come From?

Posted by on May. 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM
  • 56 Replies

Where Did That Fried Chicken Stereotype Come From?

A rival of Tiger Woods made a joke that was construed by many as racist.

A rival of Tiger Woods made a joke that was construed by many as racist.

John Raoux/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sports-talk radio was abuzz this morning with some comments that Sergio Garcia, the professional golfer, made about his frequent foil, Tiger Woods.

"We'll have him 'round every night," Garcia said. "We will serve fried chicken," Garcia said.

The comment came after Garcia was asked if he would invite his rival, with whom he has a frosty relationship, to his house during next month's U.S. Open. Woods responded to Garcia's tweets on Twitter: "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate ... I'm confident that there is real regret that the remark was made." (Garcia a textbook nonapology apology.)

Wait. This again?

This black-people-and-fried-chicken thing is really old — it's not even the first time .

What is it with this stereotype about black people loving fried chicken?

I asked Claire Schmidt for help. She's a professor at the University of Missouri who studies race and folklore. Schmidt said chickens had long been a part of Southern diets, but they had particular utility for slaves. They were cheap, easy to feed and a good source of meat.

But then, Schmidt says, came .

D.W. Griffith's seminal and supremely racist 1915 silent movie about the supposedly heroic founding of the Ku Klux Klan features a group of actors portraying shiftless black elected officials acting rowdy and crudely in a legislative hall. (The message to the audience: These are the dangers of letting blacks vote.) Some of the legislators are shown drinking. Others had their feet kicked up on their desks. And one of them was very ostentatiously eating fried chicken.

"That image really solidified the way white people thought of black people and fried chicken," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that like watermelon, that other food that's been a mainstay in racist depictions of blacks, chicken was also a good vehicle for racism because of the way people eat it. (According to government stats, blacks .) "It's a food you eat with your hands, and therefore it's dirty," Schmidt said. "Table manners are a way of determining who is worthy of respect or not."

But why does this idea still hold traction, since fried chicken is clearly a staple of the American diet? Surely, KFC, Popeyes and Church's ain't national chains — — because of the supposed culinary obsessions of black folks.

"It's still a way to express racial [contempt] without getting into serious trouble," Schmidt said. (Among the Code Switch team, we've started referring to these types of winking statements as "racist bankshots.")

"How it's possible to be both a taboo and a corporate mainstream thing just shows how complicated race in America is," Schmidt said.

It's also worth citing who quipped that when it comes to race and food, people of color suffer from some real information asymmetry.

"The only reason these things are even an issue is because nobody knows what white people eat," Chappelle said.

Neon Washable Paint

by on May. 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM
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NWP
by guerrilla girl on May. 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM

"It's also worth citing who quipped that when it comes to race and food, people of color suffer from some real information asymmetry.

"The only reason these things are even an issue is because nobody knows what white people eat," Chappelle said."

I was told that we eat mayonnaise! Personally, I prefer mustard.


Neon Washable Paint

SuperChicken
by on May. 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM
1 mom liked this

I always wondered why fried chicken was considered a racist thing towards black people.  I didn't know there was a movie that started it.

Oh, and white people are supposed to eat green bean casserole.  Whatever that is.

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM

We always joke about that at work...who doesn't like fried chicken and watermelon?

Aislinn
by Silver Member on May. 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM
1 mom liked this



Quoting SuperChicken:

I always wondered why fried chicken was considered a racist thing towards black people.  I didn't know there was a movie that started it.

Oh, and white people are supposed to eat green bean casserole.  Whatever that is.


 Heaven in a casserole dish, that is what green bean casserole is! lol With some friend chicken? Oh, pure heaven. lol

Jack_Squat
by Silver Member on May. 23, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Who loves fried chicken? THIS girl loves fried chicken! Seriously, it's my favorote naughty food.
TimetoMomUp
by Runt on May. 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM

I have no idea because I love fried chicken.  I have it at least four times a year.  I'd eat it every week if it were not so bad for me.

Woodbabe
by Woodie on May. 23, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I've always wondered that too!

NWP
by guerrilla girl on May. 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM
1 mom liked this

Here is the scene from the movie if anyone cares to watch. The fried chicken guy is about 1 minute in.

I had to watch this movie for my American History course. Have you seen it? What were your experiences with this movie?



Tag3.0
by on May. 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM

I hate both foods, friend chicken is fattening and watermelon is messy. 

Sisteract
by Whoopie on May. 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM
1 mom liked this

IDK..but mmm fried chicken.

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