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 Post subject: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:25 am 
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Has it on Blue Vinyl
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Just read this really great article by Bryant Terry today. I had no idea the thug kitchen people were white (although in retrospect I suppose maybe it isn't surprising)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/10/living/th ... index.html

Quote:
Whites masking in African-American street vernacular for their own amusement and profit isn't just the tired trope of cultural exploitation...*snip*

The worst offense here is the misrepresentation. As food historian Jessica Harris has noted, "the traditional [West and Central] African diet and African-American diet are essentially ... a majority vegetarian" one. Concepts like farm-to-table, eating seasonally and eating locally, while increasingly popular in the mainstream, were not news to a community who was enslaved and brought to America generations ago to help develop the agrarian South.

African-American cuisine may suffer from the stigma and stereotype of being based in fatty pork-based dishes and butter-heavy comfort foods, but in truth, that kind of meat-heavy, indulgent decadence was scarce for millions struggling under the oppression of segregation before the industrialization of our food system. When we peel away the negative stereotypes and reductive portrayals of African-American food, we see a diverse and complex culinary tradition with nutrient-rich foods like collards, mustards, turnips, butter beans, black-eyed peas, green beans, sugar snap peas and the like at the cuisine's core.

As of 2011, for 57% of African-Americans, the Southern United States is still home, and most of them come from families who have been close to the land for generations as sharecroppers and migrant agricultural workers. My grandparents, and those of many other Southerners, cultivated home gardens that yielded a number of the crops mentioned above. Many still do. First lady Michelle Obama's advocacy of home gardens isn't trendy for her and millions like her who descend from the South: it's traditional.

Whether or not the hipsters and health nuts charmed by Thug Kitchen realize this, vegetarian, vegan and plant-strong culture in the black experience predates pernicious thug stereotypes.

Said another way, the Thug Kitchen's central comic conceit doesn't jive with reality.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:49 pm 
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I edited the title to include the book name, just to make it a little more clear.

I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but their response of just ignoring the criticism is really shitty. I think the way people react to being called out for something means more than the original misgiving, we all make mistakes or say something offensive, but to just ignore it and plow through sucks and makes me think very little of someone. They don't care because they got their book deal, they got on the Rachael Ray show, ignore the haterzzzzz, blah blah blah.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:52 pm 
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Also, here is an article about their appearance on Rachael Ray where they dismiss the controversy:

http://watercoolerconvos.com/2014/10/10 ... word-thug/

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:28 pm 
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I think Bryant Terry covers some really good points, especially when it seems to point out that what I felt was a non every day talk, very exaggerated. I also felt very uncomfortable with those criticizing Thug Kitchen because some of the comments themselves seemed very racist. It is a shame that the authors are dismissive of the comments. I get some of their Facebook updates but I haven't seen anything from them flat out talking about the issue which I do think is a missed opportunity. And on the other hand, I think things went so far for such a long time that it was hard for them to back down. I mean even though I'm surprised people assumed they were black (again back to some of the racist comments I've seen), they could've tempered it by saying 'look we aren't black, this isn't about being black but about good food'. Maybe they could've done a turn around.

For me, I really thought it was an opportunity to use the word 'thug' in a positive way. And the book is actually very, very toned down from the website and even the type of talk Bryant Terry quotes isn't seen in the book.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:22 am 
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I thought this was a good essay..not sure how I got to it though - fb link or random clicking? I don't think it was from PPK though, so I will share here.

http://afroculinaria.com/2014/10/22/thu ... privilege/


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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:48 am 
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mrsbadmouth wrote:
I think the way people react to being called out for something means more than the original misgiving, we all make mistakes or say something offensive, but to just ignore it and plow through sucks and makes me think very little of someone.


QFT. Thank you for putting this so eloquently.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:08 am 
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Agreed. I kind of went back and forth about what I thought of the original "gag" of the blog originally. I like the recipes they post a lot, and I liked the fact that for once, there was a vegan food blog that was focused on healthy, whole foods type recipes that wasn't couched in the whole "love and light and weight loss and glowing-skinned-domestic-goddess" kind of language and imagery that so many other blogs are. I was ready to give them the benefit of the doubt that they adopted the schtick to garner attention for their recipes, since unfortunately, it seems that having awesome recipes isn't enough to make you a successful food blogger/get you a cookbook deal these days.

However, the fact that they have COMPLETELY IGNORED the questions and criticism being leveled at them now makes me feel differently about them. As much as I like their recipes (and I really, really do), I don't want to support the kind of people that refuse to address the fact that their behavior might be hurtful or, well, shitty. How hard would it be for them to say, "we adopted the tone of the blog as a joke and a way to get attention in a crowded marketplace. We see now that it's shitty, and we're going to continue to write recipes in a no-bullshit tone, but we're going to leave the questionable appropriation of "thug culture" behind. Mea culpa." THE END!

Bryant Terry's writeup is so thoughtful and reasonable, and especially combined with his background in outreach to food-insecure communities, bringing them cooking skills and healthy food, and the fact that he's a man of colour living in a city with a strong history of racial issues and racial violence, I think it carries a lot of weight and is particularly relevant to this debate. It sucks hard that the TK folks won't respond.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:07 pm 
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after first learning of the thug kitchen controversy i thought maybe i was missing something. so i asked my multi-racial group of friends and family "what is your mental picture of a thug?" most of their descriptions didn't involve race at all, and those that did described a person of their own race.

the word "thug" isn't racially specific... nor is the use of profanity paired with a sadistic attitude.

i do understand how "thug" can be used as code for the n-word by racist people - but unlike the n-word, it isn't automatically racist. it's absolutely tied to context and the intent of the speaker/author.

i agree that the TK authors shouldn't be avoiding the issue - but i'd prefer to see them have the courage to stand up against the "automatic racism" bullshiitake rather than feed the misconception.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:25 pm 
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zero33 wrote:

the word "thug" isn't racially specific... nor is the use of profanity paired with a sadistic attitude.


But as with so many things, this ends up being more than the sum of its parts. The fact that many people have called this into question, for example Mr. Terry above, means it's at least worth considering as a possibility. It's okay not to share his opinion or don't experience it personally, but it's disheartening to see so much dismissiveness because "that's not my experience/perception." TK should really at least acknowledge the controversy. If they don't think they're doing anything wrong, they should have no problem addressing this.

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 Post subject: Re: The problem with 'thug' cuisine (Thug Kitchen)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:40 pm 
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Saying it's "automatic racism bullshiitake" or "something white people get upset about just to get upset about something" (as was said in other threads) just seems so defensive to me. There are people of all colors who have problems with this and I think it's ok to discuss this and come to the conclusion that you don't find it offensive yourself but that doesn't mean that the people who feel offended don't have a right to feel this way or that they are in the wrong

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