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Hey, White People Have Appropriated Black Culture Again!

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hattiebs_chicken1.0.0

Nashville hot chicken has become a thing. A recent write up of this phenomenon of a dish long eaten by the area’s African-American population credited white people for making it happen. Um, no.

George Embiricos at Food Republic has written a hot mess of an article on Hattie B’s hot chicken that gives credit for the popularity of the dish to the white guys who took a piece of black culinary culture and made it cool. This is not me paraphrasing. This is literally what Embiricos says:

Today, Hattie B’s has two Nashville locations, in addition to one in Birmingham, Alabama, with plans to expand throughout the Southeast. Lengthy lines — packed with locals, tourists and celebrities alike — regularly stretch down the block during peak times. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack may have created hot chicken in the 1930s, and institutions like Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish may have helped preserve the tradition over the years, but Hattie B’s has made hot chicken cool.

Before Hattie B’s opened, there was plenty of hot chicken in Nashville, but the emphasis was always on the “hot” part. Lasater put more focus on the chicken, using high-quality birds. That, combined with a central location, an outdoor patio, pairing the chicken with sweet options like waffles and offering local beers on tap, changed the hot-chicken experience. All have proved vital to Hattie B’s sustained success, cementing its place among the city’s staples.

Let me remind you, it’s 2016. We’ve lived through white people “inventing” rock & roll so they could sell it to white people and then half a century of people — black and white — pointing out that it’s an older art form than that. We’ve lived through a century of “vulgar” “exotic” “indecent” dances done by black kids becoming “fun” and “energetic” and “cool” when white kids do it — see everything from the hop straight through breakdancing through whatever kids are doing today. Graffiti, when black kids were doing it, was criminal and fed into gang culture. Banksy does it and now it’s worth preserving and spending money to collect it. There’s not a black art form, food included, that by this point hasn’t been popularized by white people and then the popularized version celebrated by white media like white people invented it, or at least, perfected it.

If, at this point, you’re still writing articles where black people have been doing shit for years, going mostly unnoticed by white people, and it’s only when the white people come in and decide to monetize it that you declare it cool, then you are the problem with America.

Indeed. Racism has many forms. Among them is ignoring long histories of African-American food culture to appropriate it for whites using fancy hipster words.

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  • Dilan Esper

    Who EVER claimed white people invented rock n roll?

    There WERE some claims by Nick Larocca that his white band invented jazz, but AFAIK nobody took them seriously.

    • Yankee

      Dick Clark? Bill Haley? Sam Phillips? Tom Parker?

      • Dilan Esper

        I know Bill Haley didn’t claim that. He credited Big Joe Turner and was such a big fan that he leant Turner the Comets.

      • Captain Splendid

        Don’t forget Pat Boone, a man whose career and riches are literally impossible without racism.

      • Halloween Jack

        Not Sam Phillips, either. The quote that’s been attributed to him, in various forms, is “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars!” This was back when music itself was segregated (although people could and did listen to whichever radio station they wanted, alone or in the right sort of company).

      • Halloween Jack

        It goes without saying that some of those men took advantage of the racism and segregation in popular music by promoting white musicians (Elvis, Pat Boone) who, at least in Boone’s case, performed whitewashed versions of songs by African-American artists, and made a lot more money than the original songwriters. AFAIK, you didn’t get into outright song theft until Led Zepplin.

    • UkuleleIke

      Everything ever written or said about the origins of Rock & Roll is bullshit.

      • rea

        And all Cretans are liars.

    • jamesepowell

      I never heard anyone claim that white people invented rock n roll.

  • There’s a lot of evil stuff in the world, but the movement of food across ethnic and class lines just isn’t one of them. No one invented anything, or owns anything, when it comes to food styles and the fact that one entrepreneur takes a local food and takes it to a different audience, or a wider audience, is just a ridiculous thing to get angry or excited about. I like really hot food–I was raised on Szechuan food–do I owe something to the Chinese when I eat hot chilies with Indian and Thai food? Do the Chinese owe the Mexicans for Chiles in the first place? Do the Italians owe the Americas for their love affair with Tomatoes?

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Talk about missing the point…

      • Origami Isopod

        Yes.

    • Murc

      No one invented anything, or owns anything, when it comes to food styles and the fact that one entrepreneur takes a local food and takes it to a different audience, or a wider audience, is just a ridiculous thing to get angry or excited about.

      That’s not what people are angry about, though. They are, rightfully, angry that it is being taken to a different audience with the roots totally ignored or deliberately obfuscated, and also about the fact that stuff doesn’t become legitimized until white folks decide they like it.

      The problem here isn’t that some white folks looked at the hot chicken scene and went “you know what, if we re-packaged this in a way that has much broader appeal, we can make it much more popular and make a killing.” That’s relatively unobjectionable. What is objectionable is the way the article in question says that it took white folks coming in to “make hot chicken cool” and “cementing its place among the city’s staples.” Its place was already fuckin’ cemented, Hattie B’s just took it upscale.

      do I owe something to the Chinese when I eat hot chilies with Indian and Thai food? Do the Chinese owe the Mexicans for Chiles in the first place? Do the Italians owe the Americas for their love affair with Tomatoes?

      First off: yes. You owe some acknowledgement as to the traditional sources behind the food you eat.

      Second of all, the cultural context is different. If Italians had a history of shocking racism and denigration towards the Americas, but were perfectly willing to loot it for the bits they liked and incorporate them into their own culture without shame or acknowledgement, it would be a much different situation.

      • Warren Terra

        Second of all, the cultural context is different. If Italians had a history of shocking racism and denigration towards the Americas, but were perfectly willing to loot it for the bits they liked and incorporate them into their own culture without shame or acknowledgement, it would be a much different situation.

        There’s an essay about curries in England (and Kebabs in Germany?) to be had here.

        • Ronan

          Not really, “curry is England’s national dish” is more often used as an example of the benefits of multiculturalism. It’s not claiming the white English created curry, or made it popular.
          Relatedly, the first person to bring fish and chips to Ireland (at least as a business) was a turn of 19th century Italian immigrant, which is why (historically, less so now) Italians and “people of Italian origin” were disproportionately likely to run.chippers in Ireland.

          • LeeEsq

            Fish and chips itself originated from a Sephardic Jewish method of keeping fish edible through Shabbat.

          • “curry is England’s national dish” is more often used as an example of the benefits of multiculturalism

            I know some Indian people who have Views about that attitude. As one of them recently put it, she has a prepared rant about “the brand of British multiculturalism that tolerates immigrants because we bring improved street food.” This is a woman who is doing her doctorate in the UK, and is basically required to show up weekly and prove… something, in order to be allowed to stay. But hey, curry is the English national dish!

            • Ronan

              Of course, people take offence about all types of stuff. Particularly those with PhDs.I often thought it was a best faith attempt by people (most of the time) to navigate politically difficult waters, ymmv.

              Edit: not meant in a hostile way, Abigail. ( though a little snarky ) I always like your comments.

              • You’re not being hostile to me, you’re being hostile to my friend. Who I think gets to decide how she feels about the way the people who colonized her country treat her and her culture without being dismissed as an effete academic.

                • Ronan

                  The fact that the political context has now changed what your friend perceives that phrase to represent , doesn’t mean anything to what it meant historically. And *it was* used as a way to explain, in a simple way, to people how immigration had enriched the UK. Ie

                  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tikka_masala

                  And I do come from a background, and in parts family, which (rightly or wrongly) perceived it’s relationship with the UK as colonial, and where these “concerns” arose in times of turbulence. I don’t buy it, personally. I don’t think her objections rise beyond the rhetorical

                • Gareth

                  What does she think about how India treats immigrants?

            • Ghostship

              The thing I really object to is the Japanese appropriation of British curry.

          • Warren Terra

            Not really, “curry is England’s national dish” is more often used as an example of the benefits of multiculturalism. It’s not claiming the white English created curry, or made it popular.

            True enough, but let’s go back to what I was actually responding to:

            . If Italians had a history of shocking racism and denigration towards the Americas, but were perfectly willing to loot it for the bits they liked and incorporate them into their own culture without shame or acknowledgement, it would be a much different situation.

            I think we can agree that Britain institutionally, and especially the lower-class-White “lager lout” subculture, has a history of “shocking racism and denigration” towards the Subcontinent and are “perfectly willing to loot it” for its cuisine.

            • Ronan

              No, because they weren’t “loot(ing)it for the bits they liked and incorporat(ing) them into their own culture without shame or acknowledgement.”

              • Warren Terra

                The “lager lout” subculture is noted for its finely honed sense of shame?

                • Ronan

                  The “lager lout” subculture* was also the part of the white English population most likely to live by, make friends with, and get into relationships with non white migrants (when it counted, ie the bad days of the 60/70/80s before significant high skilled non white migration)

                  * I don’t know what the “lager lout subculture” is. If it’s primarily the working class, then my point stands. If it’s specifically English football hooligins then the number is so small to be trivial, and gangs/relationships are probably more important than race. If it’s the national front et al, then obviously

                • Ronan

                  Anyway, I’m talking about the use of this phrase. Not this supposed subculture.

            • Origami Isopod

              and especially the lower-class-White “lager lout” subculture

              Nah, they’re just the ones who are more overt about it.

            • Ghostship

              and are “perfectly willing to loot it” for its cuisine

              That’s the least of Britain’s crimes against India. The Britsih were just looting it, period.
              As for the curry houses frequented by lager louts, the dishes they serve have little to do with real food from the Indian sub-continent. For instance, a vindaloo is a Goan dish and usually made with pork there, in the UK it’s made with lamb, chicken, prawns and sometimes beef. As for the curry houses, the vast majority of them are owned and operated by Bangladeshis from Sylhet so whites might consume the food, but there has been little cultural appropriation along the lines of Hattie B and much of what profits there are have flowed back to Sylhet.

        • gmoot

          For the English, appropriating curries is the only way to avoid acknowledging that (unappropriated) English food tastes like the Thames water in it was boiled.

          • LeeEsq

            Oh, I don’t know. A good roast beef with roasted vegetables, mustard, and a beer to wash it down is very fulfilling. Many British deserts aren’t bad either. Fish and chips are rather nice even if not completely British.

            • Linnaeus

              My grandmother used to make a mean trifle.

              • LeeEsq

                So does my mom.

            • (((Hogan)))

              Many British deserts aren’t bad either.

              But let’s not bring Rommel into this.

            • djw

              Yorkshire pudding is worthy of a defense.

              • Origami Isopod

                So are Bakewell tarts.

          • Karen24

            Somewhere there’s a really good essay describing actual traditional English food and noting that it was food rationing during WWI and WWII that destroyed English cuisine. Trifles, syllabubs, roast beef, all are pretty amazing.

            • sibusisodan

              That’s a really good point.

              I read a few years back that the reason the village of Saffron Walden was so named was because it used to grow loads of saffron. It stopped in WW1 and never recovered.

          • vic rattlehead

            I love yorkshire pudding.

            Then again, I love shit on a shingle so perhaps my food preferences are not to be trusted.

            • Ronan

              I’m ambivalent on Yorkshire puddings. They were the bane of my childhood, in a lot of ways, but I’ve grown to appreciate them.

            • wjts

              Toad-in-the-hole is a cold-weather staple in my house.

          • Why do people keep repeating this garbage? the idea that English people boil everything to death is fucking stupid. You are, in short, a fucking idiot.

            • Warren Terra

              Yeah! That’s the Welsh!

              (I kid. Or, at least, I know nothing about Welsh food.)

              • Origami Isopod

                I know just a little about Welsh food. You could say… I know a rare bit.

                • Matty

                  To what unpronounceable town would you like your internet delivered?

                • Origami Isopod

                  Why, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, of course.

      • Linnaeus

        One of the challenges, I think, in discussions of cultural appropriation is coming to some common understanding of what “cultural appropriation” means and where the consequent loci of appropriation (for lack of a better term) are.

        Did the appropriation happen in the Food Republic article? Or in the establishment of Hattie B’s? Ask 10 different people and you’ll get at least a few different answers.

        • i8kraft

          Yeah, the times I’ve asked about it in good faith (and I thought politely) I got lack-of-substance name-calling from most and several different definitions from the rest. It’s such a hot button issue on the left that I can’t even get my own tribe to help me understand it in a way that makes it feel like a consistent idea. There may very well be narrow definitions that are consistent, but the broad ones I’ve been presented with seemed to fall apart on inspection. And like you said, sources vary so wildly that I don’t even know where to find a definitive source to educate myself.

      • vic rattlehead

        Yeah I don’t think there is anything whatsoever wrong with borrowing from a different culture’s food traditions. Obfuscating the roots and taking credit for it is a different matter though.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        If Italians had a history of shocking racism and denigration towards the Americas, but were perfectly willing to loot it for the bits they liked and incorporate them into their own culture without shame or acknowledgement, it would be a much different situation.

        Unfortunately, I can’t embed a “Not sure if serious” meme picture here….

        • LeeEsq

          Paging Christopher Columbus, paging Christopher Columbus.

          • Warren Terra

            There’s also the claim that Marco Polo introduced pasta from China, but that seems to lack factual basis.

            • LeeEsq

              Pasta like printing seems to have been discovered/invented in different places and at different times.

        • Murc

          If you have a problem with my hypothetical analogy, I’m listening. As far as I’m aware Italy (which has only really been a nation-state for a century and a half or so; prior to that it was a geographical description, not the name of a country) has no real history of colonialism or systemic racism directed towards the Americas.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            So you’re declaring your analogy is correct because Colombo, Vespucci, Caboto, and dozens of other explorers that we would identify today as ethnically Italian and who enslaved and massacred Native Americans and took various things back to Italy (including tomatoes, which first appeared in Tuscany in 1548) self-identified as Genovese, Venetian, etc. instead of “Italian”? Hoo-kay….

            • LeeEsq

              Italy did not exist as a nation-state at the time and Colombus, Vespucci, and Caboto were under the employ of the Spanish and English monarchs. I’m not sure if Caboto seems to have been a pure explorer. English settlement of the Americas did not begin to nearly a century after Caboto’s exploration. Whatever harm is attributable to the above three, I’m not sure you can blame it on the Italians.

            • Murc

              Those explorers were in the employ of other nation-states.

              By your logic, the German people as a whole are complicit in British colonialism because German mercenaries were employed to crush rebellions in Ireland.

              • By your logic, the German people as a whole are complicit in British colonialism because German mercenaries were employed to crush rebellions in Ireland.

                Now we just have to figure out whether “the German people as a whole” should include the Sudetenland Germans and the Volga Germans! I wonder who we could ask?

          • Nick056

            America canonically celebrates the discovery of the continent as achieved by Christopher Columbus, an Italian, who did terrible things to indiginous people upon arriving here. Whenever some people propose altering this annual celebration, Italian Americans are typically the largest ethnic group that opposes any change, on grounds that honoring an ethnic Italian outweighs any terrible things he may have done.

            • LeeEsq

              When the Catholic Monarchs think you crossed a line and are horrified at your actions than you know your in bad company.

            • Origami Isopod

              I’ve seen it suggested that we honor Guglielmo Marconi instead, which I think is a fine idea.

      • twbb

        “They are, rightfully, angry that it is being taken to a different audience with the roots totally ignored or deliberately obfuscated, and also about the fact that stuff doesn’t become legitimized until white folks decide they like it.”

        Eh, usually I sympathize with that kind of argument, but this is one clueless food critic. I mean, as a class food critics are pretty much not representative of humanity as a whole, and I’m getting tired of the internet outrage over one person or a small number of people saying bad things and having it extrapolated into large-scale injustice.

        Obviously cultural appropriation is a problem, but I think the appropriation of say, entire neighborhoods by rich suburban parent-funded hipsters, or even white ally theater by leftier-than-thou types is much more of a co-opting problem than a single critic making a single stupid comment.

        Now

        • i8kraft

          Right. Prince’s is literally the only hot chicken restaurant I’d ever heard of. If the war to culturally appropriate hot chicken is a real thing, it seems to be failing.

        • Origami Isopod

          Obviously cultural appropriation is a problem, but I think the appropriation of say, entire neighborhoods by rich suburban parent-funded hipsters, or even white ally theater by leftier-than-thou types is much more of a co-opting problem than a single critic making a single stupid comment.

          This is a strawman. The essay condemned the food critic for exacerbating what the appropriators had already done.

      • los

        just took it upscale.
        gentrified. chainstored?
        there goes the neighborhood

        central american potatoes eventually came back to the new world. then somebody mutated french fries..

    • Warren Terra

      I agree with a lot of what you say, but also agree with Lost Left Coaster that you’ve missed the point. No-one is saying white folks shouldn’t enjoy “Nashville Hot Chicken”, and no-one is saying (here, I think) white folks shouldn’t get rich selling “Nashville Hot Chicken”. They’re just saying that if some white folks are getting rich selling “Nashville Hot Chicken” it’s fine to congratulate them, even to celebrate them, but it’s deeply insulting to a bunch of their predecessors to treat those white people as if they invented “Nashville Hot Chicken” and to erase their predecessors from history.

      (this would still be true without the racial aspects, but of course the racial aspects tie into a whole constellation of previous offenses)

      • Tom in BK

        I’m failing to see where the appropriation takes place here. The owners of this restaurant seem to be respectful to the heritage of the cuisine they’re serving.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          The article Erik links talks about the food writers covering the restaurant.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            Except that begs the question of how food critics can “appropriate” anything other than if they plagiarize another food critic’s writing. You can say their writing is incomplete or sloppy or misleading (depending on the degree of malevolence you wish to ascribe to them), but they haven’t taken anything from anyone. You would never with a straight face say that the author of a book about the history of telecommunications “appropriated” radio if they gave sole credit to Marconi and omitted references to Tesla’s earlier work on the subject.

            • MaxUtility

              It would be “sloppy” or “misleading” if they just left out references to the history of the food. It becomes “appropriation” when they assign the importance and “coolness” of the food stuff to the white people who started selling it only recently.

              I’m not sure why the use of the term upsets you, but I think it’s valid in this case.

            • You would never with a straight face say that the author of a book about the history of telecommunications “appropriated” radio if they gave sole credit to Marconi and omitted references to Tesla’s earlier work on the subject.

              Those damned Italians, always keeping the Serbs down.

      • xq

        The Food Republic writer does not say white folk invented “Nashville Hot Chicken.” He explicitly mentions the black predecessors in the quoted piece.

        • i8kraft

          Right, there’s some eliding happening here. That said, saying that the white establishment made it cool is insulting because it seems to be saying that “cool” is defined by white people and doesn’t take the feelings of black people into account. To me, this makes it not cultural appropriation, but racism. A minor instance in this case, but of a type with a long history.

          • Origami Isopod

            Cultural appropriation is so closely tied in with institutional racism that I don’t see a meaningful difference.

            • i8kraft

              If there’s no meaningful difference, then there shouldn’t be a separate, confounding term.

    • LifeOntheFallLine

      No one…owns anything when it comes to food styles

      Fair enough as far as it goes. We haven’t quite gotten to the point with our IP where we’re claiming the patent on “fried chicken.” Yet, at least.

      No one invented anything…when it comes to food styles

      This is simply not true. Just because we may not be able to trace back to the precise origin point of a dish or style doesn’t mean there weren’t progenitors. These things don’t just spring forth from the ether and the people who created or fostered their creation deserve the credit for that. If it was the Nashville’s Black community that experimented with and perfected the dish that came to be known as “hot chicken” over time then it’s fucked up to pretend that white people should get the credit for it just because they opened a restaurant in a good location (that much of Nashville’s Black population wouldn’t have access to thanks to systemic racism) with proper (palatable to white people) marketing.

      and the fact that one entrepreneur takes a local food and takes it to a different audience, or a wider audience, is just a ridiculous thing to get angry or excited about.

      Given that it’s yet another example of Black people in this country not being given the same opportunity to profit off their labor and creativity as white people, it’s really not.

      • sapient

        Nobody is suggesting that white people invented this style of chicken. This particular restaurant owner recounts a history of the recipe that doesn’t have any “credit” going to white people. In fact, the credit should go to an African American woman, whose allegedly cheating boyfriend took it to the restaurant level and made money on it. Then white people took it to a larger audience and made more money on it.

        This isn’t a problem, folks. It trivializes real racism to pretend that it is.

        • sapient

          Nobody is suggesting that white people invented this style of chicken. This particular restaurant owner recounts a history of the recipe that doesn’t have any “credit” going to white people. In fact, the credit should go to an African American woman, whose allegedly cheating boyfriend took it to the restaurant level and made money on it. Then white people took it to a larger audience and made more money on it.

          This isn’t a problem, folks. It trivializes real racism.

        • Origami Isopod

          It trivializes real racism to pretend that it is.

          Shorter Sapient: Racism isn’t “real” unless there’s a burning cross.

          • sapient

            Longer Sapient: Racism is real when you’re talking about the way people are treated. When you’re talking about chicken recipes, it makes real racism seem trivial. By the way, the (maybe apocryphal) story about a woman who created a recipe, and a man having made money on it, doesn’t seem to bother you in the least bit. Why not?

            • The Temporary Name

              Longer Sapient: Racism is real when you’re talking about the way people are treated. When you’re talking about chicken recipes, it makes real racism seem trivial.

              Racism can be inadvertent, like when you miss a point for instance.

          • sapient

            By the way, are you Japanese?

            • DocAmazing

              She probably isn’t an isopod, either.

    • Mondfledermaus

      Agree. File this post along with those of the “War on Christmas” and “Creeping Sharia”.

  • Jon_H11

    I have a hard time understanding the “appropriation” thing.

    Black people create great music, art, and food. Some white people happen to appreciate that great music, art, and food. Where is the evil there?

    I understand that because of the racist structure of society, black people are often (usually) unable to profit from or effectively monetize these things, and white people can and do, even if they had no significant part in their creation, and that is unjust. Not to minimize the problem of racial/economic inequalities, but is that all there is to it? I just feel like I’m missing something when this comes up and I’d sincerely like for someone to explain it to me. Is there anything specifically evil about appropriation that isn’t just concomitant with the general racism in America?

    • Lost Left Coaster

      The conclusion of the article Erik linked puts it pretty well:

      So, let’s be honest. When you have a chicken dish that a quarter of the city has loved for almost a century and the rest of the city comes to love when they learn about it, it’s racism that kept most white people from knowing about hot chicken, because white people didn’t go into black neighborhoods. When the black people who have the decades’ long expertise in making hot chicken don’t grow rich off it, but the white kid who got to go to culinary school does, it’s not because his hot chicken tastes better. It’s that it’s still really hard for black people to go to culinary school or to get the bank loans that would let them expand their businesses into neighborhoods white people will visit.

      No one should begrudge Hattie B’s their success. The food’s great. The locations are great. But for George Embiricos and John Lasater to both fail to acknowledge the fundamental reason Hattie B’s is more successful than the older hot chicken joints just feeds into the same old racist dishonesty we love as a country. And that’s a real shame.

      • brad

        Not to mention in 10 years when many of the the other places are closed by landlords who want Hattie B franchise rents and franchise prices 2-3 times as high have priced out many of the original customers most of the time.

        This amounts to pre-corporate co-option. Watch a virus emerge and propagate in real time.

        • manual

          Thats a different public policy question!!!! My god. Build more housing, do LIHTC credits, maybe some rent control, oppose HOPE VI. Change zoningQ But the lack of affordable land and units is not from cultural appropriation.

          • brad

            I’m not presuming gentrification so much as this new chain will be able to snatch up all the locations where either sufficient traffic and/or white people to pay higher prices will be found.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Except that the conclusion is objectively stupid: In the excerpted quote, Embiricos specifically identifies other restaurants (presumably African-American-owned from the context) as being the originators of the dish. He merely credits Hattie B’s with having “made hot chicken cool.” And no one seems to be disputing that Hattie B’s has made the dish wider known than it once was. Would the problem have been solved if Embiricos had instead written, “made hot chicken cool with white people“?

        • LifeOntheFallLine

          Sure, and Elvis Presley was quite clear about the inspiration he drew from Arthur Crudup but no one leaves Graceland and treks up to Northampton County to visit Crudup’s grave.

        • Snuff curry

          Would the problem have been solved if Embiricos had instead written, “made hot chicken cool with white people“?

          Would it be better, anyway, if journalists didn’t treat middle-class white people as the default, the arbiter of passing trends and tastes. Yes, objectively speaking, that would be better for everyone.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Would the problem have been solved if Embiricos had instead written, “made hot chicken cool with white people“?

          Yes, that would have been a vast improvement.

          • i8kraft

            Agreed. But since this is the problem, it seems like the run-of-the-mill racism of treating the opinions of white people as the default. I don’t see how this is specifically cultural appropriation. Or is that what cultural appropriation is, just not taking the opinions of people of other races into account? Because if so, the term should be abolished and just described with that sentence, because (as this thread shows) the term itself is a massive source of confusion.

    • Origami Isopod

      Black people create great music, art, and food. Some white people happen to appreciate that great music, art, and food. Where is the evil there?

      Because (a) These things are dismissed as inferior, “trashy,” etc. when black people do them, but become “cool” when white people do them. (b) And lucrative, meaning that the appropriators benefit from the creativity and labor of black people without giving back to those individuals or their communities.

      • mpavilion

        I think the opposite of (a) is more often true…

        But this all seems beside the point of the main post. So a restaurant got a bad / silly / even racist “write-up” somewhere… ok…

        • Origami Isopod

          I think the opposite of (a) is more often true…

          Just because a relative handful of white people prefer “authenticity” doesn’t mean most white Americans reject “race music,” “soul food,” etc. unless it’s produced and marketed to them on their terms.

          • mpavilion

            I’m not sure it’s that simple (and don’t really feel like arguing the point). But when you say “most people,” I think that’s your (b) scenario that you’re talking about. The small group of ppl who value “authenticity” or whatever is contrary to your (a) scenario…? But now I’m getting confused, so never mind

          • mnuba

            To add to this, this dishonest engagement with a minority culture that is only acceptable when “produced and marketed to them on their terms” in turn becomes another tool to dismiss/deflect any other callouts/accusations of racism.

            Like the classic “but I have a black friend” chestnut, the “I listen to gangsta rap sometimes and equate that with the entirety of black cultureI love ‘black culture’, therefore I can’t be racist” line of argument can be unfortunately common.

      • sapient

        This is why people start rolling their eyes and complain about political correctness. I love music – some are black artists, some are white. I love food from everywhere. The most wonderful thing about the USA is that there’s so much good food here, and it comes from everywhere. Sure it’s best to know the history of whatever you do or touch, but celebrating multiculturalism doesn’t demand it. Just enjoy your dinner ffs.

        • Origami Isopod

          This is why people start rolling their eyes and complain about political correctness.

          Well, yes, it’s not pleasant to be informed that you’re ignorant and maybe you need to examine your assumptions. So much easier just to whine about how “oversensitive” everyone else is.

          • manual

            Dude, yours is not a political act. Its the artifice of one.

            • Origami Isopod

              Let me guess, you’re fond of the phrase “identity politics.”

              • manual

                Sometimes, I guess? But I also work in the labor movement, used to work for community development corporation on Chicago’s West Side, and also used to help with low-income housing construction. I have found these to be ways to improve people’s lives.

                I will say I worry much less about the appropriation of chicken dishes than about people’s ability to afford that chicken dish. Usually the people I meet and work for also share that dichotomy of concern.

          • witlesschum

            Yup. Whenever anyone like sapient tells me to close my eyes, I have never yet listened to them. You can notice the problems or injustices or ways the world works and still enjoy what I assume is tasty chicken.

      • tsam

        This. White people like to claim they “civilized” parts of these cultures.

        • sapient

          Racists do, not white people.

          • Snuff curry

            Not all white racists

      • UncleEbeneezer

        I think these discussions always get sidetracked by the fact that CA is complex, multi-faceted and involves numerous parties as well as society-at-large, but the defenders of CA always choose to micro-litigate just one component.

        For the culinary example like this one there is: 1.) who created/invented a dish, 2.) the circumstances that led to that creation (often crushing poverty), 3.) how society viewed the people who ate that dish (it was usually stigmatized as “hood” food or put into even more overtly racist terms), 4.) how it suddenly became cool once white people started to enjoy it, 5.) how some white individual(s) profited off it, 6.) how society praised the white adopters while still ignoring the minority inventors/early adopters, 7.) how white people react defensively to the very concept of CA (anywhere from THIS isn’t a case of CA, to “don’t we have bigger fish to fry?” to “there’s no such thing as CA/watch out for the PC Police!”

        CA defenders always focus on one of these as if a sound refutation of any one of them somehow negates the rest or the sum and magically nullifies the concerns of CA. In many cases the articles complaining about CA aren’t asking for a magical solution (because one doesn’t exist), they are just noting the double-standards of our society that are deeply informed by racism and white supremacy. In most cases there’s nothing that can be done to fix the problem, but the marginalized group still has every right to say “it sucks the way we do X for years and it’s overlooked or even stigmatized, then you (white people) suddenly decide it’s cool and mostly reward the appropriators while ignoring the pioneers and the culture which birthed X.”

    • Murc

      Black people create great music, art, and food. Some white people happen to appreciate that great music, art, and food. Where is the evil there?

      Nobody is upset about that part of it, tho. (Or if they are, I’m prepared to argue they’re wrong to be.) They’re upset about the parts in the first sentence of your second paragraph, along with what Lost Left Coaster said.

    • vic rattlehead

      Slightly off topic, is it possible to appropriate hip hop any longer? It went from being a fringe underground genre to now being one of the most dominant musical genres on the planet. Can a non-black person engaging in one of the dominant musical forms on the planet be said to be engaging in appropriation?

      • John Revolta

        There will come a time when the only people who care about hip-hop will be fat old white guys, and everyone else will be embarassed by them. Their hero will probably be some white guy who maybe hasn’t even been born yet.
        I say this as an old white guy who likes the blues but doesn’t talk about it much.

        • los

          only people who care about hip-hop will be fat old white guys
          hiphop (music) died in 94…

      • LifeOntheFallLine

        Given that non-Black people have been involved in hip-hop from almost the first repeated break beat, that’s not the question you want to ask.

        Every hip hop head I know doesn’t care when non-Black people engage in the art form, it’s when they do it badly and still profit and get accolades for it that’s a problem.

        • bender

          I think borrowing crosses the line to appropriation when one or two of the following are true:
          1. The borrower knows the source and fails to give credit
          2. The borrower benefits without sharing benefits with the source
          3. The culture to which the borrower belongs interferes with the source performing what they originated, while allowing and rewarding the borrower for performing it
          4. The borrower does it badly or in contexts that the source would consider inappropriate, without acknowledging that fact and providing some justification that isn’t a put-down of the source culture.

          Dominant cultures do this all the time, shamelessly. Sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of arrogance, sometimes because they don’t have to care.

          An everyday example of cultural appropriation in the political and religious sphere: Christian apologists using selective, translated quotations from the Hebrew prophets to argue that Christianity has superseded Judaism and that the Jews don’t understand their own sacred writings.

          Orders of magnitudes less serious appropriation: the godawful rolls that goyim call bagels.

      • MaxUtility

        It’s hard to “appropriate” hip hop at this point. But it is still an issue when a white artist tries to fully adopt stereotypical or locale specific black mannerisms or styles as a way to make their music more “authentic”. See: Azalea, Iggy

        • DocAmazing

          She’s heir to the Vanilla Ice throne for photogenic white people with expensive producers and no flow who get inordinate amounts of airplay. Captain Splendid referenced Pat Boone above; this is just the early-21st-century version of the same phenomenon.

        • Origami Isopod

          See also: Miley Cyrus twerking.

  • manual

    Isnt appropriation how information and culture spread to improve living? There are a lot of other hills to die on.

    • sapient

      This.

    • Snuff curry

      Isnt appropriation how information and culture spread to improve living?

      Yes, that works as an apology and justification for colonization, too.

      • manual

        So are you are eating mexican food and enjoying all he accouterments of modern living, or are you living as natural heritage (whatever that means) absent outside existence? Everything has been appropriated to create modernity. Math was created in the levan, silk in neolithic china and so on.

        • Origami Isopod

          Eating Mexican food != making money off selling Mexican food that has been changed to suit white tastes.

  • pianomover

    “There are a lot of other hills to die on”. Not if this is what your battling.

    • BiloSagdiyev
    • sapient

      Are we still battling that? That was the ’50’s. Most of us have won the Pat Boone war.

      • delazeur

        That’s right, we all know that racism is over.

        • sapient

          Pat Boone is definitely over.

          • DocAmazing

            And Iggy Azalea is moving lots o’ units, while far better rappers than she can’t get airplay.

            • manual

              http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-remix/77347-adolph-reed-on-azealia-banks-reparations-and-pop-culture-idiocracy

              AR:For instance, in popular culture, manufactured controversy between Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks.

              JP: You think that’s manufactured?

              AR: I think it’s part of the culture industry. But what happens is that following popular culture has come to be considered a political act. And debates within popular culture have come to be seen much more as carrying a political significance of their own that has never been the case previously. And it’s happened at the time that the economic conditions and the conditions of everyday life, of more and more of the population, are becoming more and more vulnerable. It just feels like a classic form of bread and circuses, basically.

              • Drexciya

                Yes, a certain category of leftist was rather impressed with this interview when it came out and with that part in particular, despite its non-specific relation to the specifics of this “manufactured” controversy. That has considerably more to do with his willingness to subject black political action to typically shallow and patronizing dismissals (portrayed and presented as stinging critiques) than it has to do with him having good-faith, useful insights on such topics. The only reason his “identity politics” stuff gets linked now is because he verbalizes a level of contempt for black political action (or political action with resonance to black people) in ways that would be correctly called racist if they were said by the predominately white crowd that loves quoting him. It should also be kept in mind that Reed goes on to say the following:

                AR: I think my position may even be worse than you think, because I don’t think there’s any value in having the reparations.

                JP: Wow.

                AR: The key question for me about reparations has nothing to do with whether the demand is justified in some way. I think there’s even a complicated or complex discussion to have around that question — about what justification means. But the crucial question for me has always been: OK, how can you imagine forming a political alliance that can prevail on this issue?

                And I’ve never gotten anything at all like a satisfactory answer. So my response was: Well, so, why do we want to talk about it then? What’s the point?

                JP: That’s interesting, because I think particularly on the Left, there are all kinds of ideas and ideologies, goals and practices that don’t seem necessarily realizable, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t talk about them though.

                AR: Well, yeah, but there are things you talk about in the bar, things you talk about among your buddies, things you talk about in a classroom. But if you want to talk about the pursuit of reparations as a political program, part of the discussion has to be a strategic one. And I don’t see where the strategic discussion has been had.

                But I digress.

                I have many, many problems with Azealia Banks. Those problems have increased over time and I’m not sure she’s willing to be reflective enough or considerate enough in how she directs her empathy and informational sources to bridge them. That said, instead of painting her as a thoughtless caricature of fake outrage discussing fake issues, it might serve to hear her thoughts, in her words, and decide from something meatier than Reed’s vague, casual dismissal whether there was substance to her complaint here. I would say yes.

                • Drexciya

                  Indeed, if you wanted some more manufactured political content, it might serve to investigate the sociopolitical context that incentivized T.I’s investment in Iggy Azalea to begin with:

                  …Not only did T.I., a multiplatinum artist, change the name of his 2010 album from King Unchained to No Mercy because of legal pressures, the album itself lacked the urgency of his previous work because police pressure mandated a relative distance from the here and now. T.I. mentioned this change of lyrical place and time in a post-prison redemption interview with Larry King. When asked what he would do to ensure he doesn’t get pinched up again, the rapper said: “Just move forward and evolve personally and musically.” Movement begets evolution, and T.I., in consultation with lawyers, counselors, and publicists, told the viewing public that things would be different. Later in the broadcast, T.I. was seen speaking to a group of “at-risk” black kids in Atlanta during which he retired his inner G, saying, “Do I consider myself a gangsta til this day? I’m retired. I’m retired.” And it all became clear on the opening track of No Mercy, “Welcome to the World,” where he rapped: It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the world of/ Fast money, flashy cars, big guns/ Undone, threw away for the love of/ The Game…

                  This is the new T.I., the new un-free world of T.I., where the artist makes music influenced directly by the state. Hip-hop wasn’t meant to be created like this but, even in its infancy, the movement was being watched. The state gaze reflects the un-free civil life that initially birthed the genre. Chuck D’s timeless refrain that rap is CNN for black people is a continuous, sometimes cantankerous update on the ill-conditioned realities of the black present — the tone reflecting a constant frustration with being told freedom is within reach, but hardly ever fulfilled. The music speaks directly to state power about black reality. And that articulation, the literal act of rapping and beatboxing and head-banging, was rappers proclaiming not only their existence but their divinely ordained right to free will. But once an artist must negotiate public freedom with artistic un-freedom the choices are narrowed: however insignificant it might seem, these small linguistic changes can upend the scope of an album or a career.

                  …Freedom after prison looked different to T.I. and Wayne, respectively. The former distanced himself from lyrical and thematic allusions to guns and violence; and the latter attempted to extract himself from the hip-hop prism altogether. Either way, freedom after prison for these artists meant creating separation between hip-hop, in all of its blackest and harshest realities. Even beloved trap pioneer, Gucci Mane, is showing signs of separatism. Though his post-prison album, Everybody Looking, largely continues on the subject matter of his previous albums and mixtapes, Gucci’s public posturing has significantly shifted. The same artist who impressed fans with the indelible rap analogy of “getting lost in the sauce,” was slated to headline an “All Lives Matter” concert in Biloxi, Mississippi. The world of the un-free is new and old. T.I., Lil Wayne, and, to a degree, Gucci Mane, used their talents and connections to break through the space that linked them to immediate and perpetual violence — only to be forced down to size.

                  The impact of prison time, and, consequently, surveillance on a rapper’s career is based on a number of variables. For instance, if an artist has already established a company or record label they’re more likely to focus on their business. T.I. dove into Grand Hustle Records, signing both Trae the Truth and Iggy Azalea in 2010.

                  But hey, no real politics here. There are black people involved, afterall.

          • los

            Pat Boone is definitely over.
            except for the Pat Boone dyspepsia?

  • Seitz

    If, at this point, you’re still writing articles where black people have been doing shit for years, going mostly unnoticed by white people, and it’s only when the white people come in and decide to monetize it that you declare it cool, then you are the problem with America.

    I’m not sure there’s anything more American, really, especially when you consider that a lot of people in this country celebrate (or at least get a day off of work for) a holiday that commemorates a white guy “discovering” a continent on which non-whites had lived for thousands of years. This sort of appropriation goes back at least 524 years.

    • Vance Maverick

      True enough, the man did not say that violence is more American than apple pie.

  • masaccio

    When I lived in Nashville, we went to Mary’s for BBQ and ribs and to another place I can’t remember for BBQ, especially goat, which really benefits from that smoky flavor. There are a number of great restaurants across the railroad tracks. You don’t have to go to the Starbucks of BBQ or Hot Chicken.

    • sapient

      But you can if you want to. All good.

      • DocAmazing

        Right up until Starbucks crowds out the coffeehouses that existed in various towns prior to the arrival of Starbucks, as has happened and is happening.

    • Thom

      People told me
      When I came to Nashville
      Boy, you’ve really got it made
      Ol’ Hank had hot chicken here
      And you can have it too
      But I don’t think Hank ate it this way
      No I don’t think Hank ate it this way

  • Murc

    Slightly OT: I confess I’d never heard of Nashville hot chicken before. I goddamn love chicken, and I love spicy things. (As long as spicy means “flavorful” and not just “heat.”) Is it as delicious as it sounds and looks? Will it soon be coming to a food truck near me?

    • so-in-so

      KFC even has it, I assume Hattie B’s is far and away better.

      • los

        KFC even has it, I assume Hattie B’s is far and away better.
        uh oh. incipient civil war.
        /s

    • vic rattlehead

      Neither had I. Although in my defense, I have never been to Nashville.

      • lunaticllama

        It’s all over the place now. You can find good versions of it in Brooklyn. Food magazines (Bon Appetit, Saveur) all ran articles about it last fall, showing that it was a food that was gaining mainstream recognition and acclaim.

        • vic rattlehead

          Ah but I am a Manhattan elitist (jk, I am just rarely in the mood to spend 45 minutes on the subway if I’m not going to work).

    • sharonT

      So these Hattie B guys invented Popeye’s?

      • so-in-so

        Nashville =/= New Orleans.

    • cleek

      what i’ve had is not super-delicious.

      what i’ve had is fried chicken with the flour in the breading mostly replaced by chili powder. it is indeed spicy. but you better like chili powder.

    • portia

      Long time fan of the blog, etc., and actual person from Nashville: YES. Yes, it is as delicious as it sounds. Yes, it is addictive as all get-out. Yes, you will be wise to avoid touching your face while enjoying hot chicken and gentlemen must remember to wash their hands BEFORE using the restroom.

      But for the love of all things holy, do not try to ingest KFC’s version. My dad’s also a native of Middle Tennessee, living in PA, and a few months ago he got a craving and broke down and tried the KFC. It tasted of “grease and sadness.” Try Carla Hall’s in Brooklyn, she’s a Nashville girl and is said to be doing it justice.

      Also, I am in no way concerned that Hattie B’s will Bigfoot the local hot chicken scene. We celebrate and support lots of different hot chicken shacks – hell, we even have an annual hot chicken festival. Prince’s and Bolton’s and 400 Degrees and the others are all doing just fine.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        My lord, I am on Expedia right now, searching out flights to Nashville…

        • sapient

          That’s what I’m thinking.

    • The original hot chicken places make it really really HOT, but Hattie B’s is spicy and kind of sweet. It’s addictive, and the fried chicken is legitimately good on top of that. My wife and I moved from Nashville last year and when we went back briefly for a wedding, it was the first place we ate and the only one we actively sought out. But a lot of people who love authentic hot chicken (which is, IMO, an acquired taste) think it’s phony, regardless of arguments about appropriation.

      I say that thinking their branding and marketing is basically racist. The chicken is good, and so, so cheap.

      • sapient

        How is their branding and marketing racist?

        • The name of the chain is disingenuous and is supposed to be evocative of an old black lady who’s letting you in on her family’s hot chicken recipe passed down through the generations. The decorative style of the restaurant is also supposed to feel like a black BBQ shack. It is literally appropriating those markers of symbolism and repackaging it as something corporate and friendly.

          When my wife and I ate there the first time we discussed whether the people running it were black or white. I thought it was run by black people and my wife assured me it wasn’t. This was a few years ago and when we researched the restaurant it was impossible to figure out who owned it, and as the Food Republic article makes clear, the restaurant was dreamed up by a restaurant owner in one of Nashville’s rich (and very white) suburbs.

          Like so much racism, it’s not any one specific thing so much as it is a collection of little things. Although I think the name of the restaurant is the most damning piece of evidence.

          And since the chain is so obviously intent on going national and becoming a big chain I see no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s not a local restaurant so much as a launching pad for a chain empire. They just happen to make really good chicken.

          • sapient

            I have to take issue here. Someone I knew in college had a daughter who took the names of her two deceased parents combined to come up with a corporate name for an artisinal candy company. It could well be an African American name, or a southern name, or whatever, but, in fact, her parents weren’t either of those things, but it sounded marketable. Calling a restaurant “Abe Lincoln’s Favorite Soul Food Joint” or “Spicy Heaven” or “XXXRated” – whatever.

            There is a wonderful prepared foods brand in Richmond, VA, called “Mrs. Marshall’s Prepared Foods.” The best chicken and potato salad in the world. They’re dead now, but I used to see Mrs. Marshall and her sisters pulling chicken in their store to make that fabulous stuff. They were white women. Who the f*** cares? They were amazing, and so was their food (and their brand survives them). And when I make chicken or potato salad, if it’s as good as that, I win!

            • Yeah, you just described a bunch of things that aren’t remotely similar to Hattie B’s, which is more like Aunt Jemima, except without the picture.

            • Drexciya

              …what?

              • sapient

                Yes, it’s true. There are a whole lot of stupid names to be had. Hattie B’s is not one of them. It’s a perfectly decent name.

                • sharculese

                  Yeah… this is sailing into refusal to get a clue territory…

          • bender

            The decent thing for the chain to do would be to put some money back into the black community of Nashville.

            • sapient

              That would be decent of any successful business – to invest in their community. It’s not a race thing.

              • bender

                Nothing in what has been written here so far suggests that that the black community of Nashville considers the owners of this restaurant to be part of the black community. Nor that the white owners regard the black community of Nashville as their own community, or even as an important part of their own community.

                When it comes time to donate to a youth athletic league, provide food for a fundraising event, buy ads on a radio station, or donate to a scholarship fund, will the owners of Hattie’s make a point of seeing that a substantial portion of their donations go to African Americans? Or are they going to donate to the community they feel a part of, the people they know and the organizations most likely to approach them, if those are mostly made up of white folks?

                It is a race thing and an ethnic thing and you either are being deliberately obtuse or you take your skin privilege and majority status for granted.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Very well said.

              • witlesschum

                You know how I can tell this is wrong?

                It’s not a race thing.

                This is America. Everything is a race thing. That’s just who we are as a country and I don’t understand even a little bit how anyone can pretend otherwise.

          • Nick056

            According to the owner, at least, Hattie is a family name. I agree there’s a twinge of appropriation there, but you can’t tell a guy his own family names are off-limits.

            • Hell, my mother (officially Harriet, after her father, Harry–NOT an abbreviation for Henry) was universally known in our family as “Hattie” or “Hat”; she was half German, half Yankee, and couldn’t cook worth a damn (except for apple pies, which she did very well indeed).

          • Ronan

            Right, and thank god the likes of KFC and mcdonalds have stuck to the general norm of marketing as truth by being run,respectively, by a white bearded southern gent and a clown.

            Edit:okay, after googling, I’ll qualify the colonel sanders comment. Jesus, he’s real?

            • It’s nice to see that non-Southerners can be condescending both for and against Southern racism.

            • bender

              In the movie “Time After Time”, H.G. Wells referred to “that Scottish place, McDougal’s.”

            • SIWOTI

              Colonel Harland Sanders was a real culinary innovator. Whatever one thinks of Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC as it is today, Sanders made real and lasting contributions to food production. He realized that pressure frying was an ideal method of decreasing the cooking time for his fried chicken while improving the finished product. Today, most fast food fried chicken is cooked using this pressure frying method. He was even granted two patents, one on the process of producing fried chicken via the pressure frying method, and another for a food preheating, cooking, and warming device.

              If you are ever traveling through Corbin, Kentucky, the Harland Sanders Café and Museum is sort of a neat place to visit, and was where he initially developed this.

          • portia

            The namesake of the restaurant is a grandmother of the founders, called Hattie. These aren’t some Belle Meade types with a keen eye for business; Bishop, Sr. ran one of the best meat and threes down in Franklin for forever and their hot chicken recipe is modified from what they served there.

            I fully support the consciousness about how they would not be in this business were it not for Prince’s girlfriend (and somehow we never really address the sexism of not knowing her name) but HB’s branding and marketing is not racist.

    • brewmn

      It is. Hattie B’s is right off I-65 in downtown Nasville, and we stop there every time we drive down to Alabama to visit my wife’s family. It might be the best chicken I’ve ever eaten.

      Be careful, though. The “damn hot” is painfully hot. I’d stick with the plain old “hot.”

  • Mike in DC

    I will confess to being aware of chicken and waffles before this happened.

    • Jackov

      How was brunch at Birch & Barley?

    • Bootsie

      I…I thought that was just a joke about southern cooking.

      I now wonder what fried chicken with maple syrup drizzled on it tastes like.

      • Ben Murphy

        I now wonder what fried chicken with maple syrup drizzled on it tastes like.

        Awesome, it tastes awesome.

        • The Temporary Name

          Agreed. Even the Taiwanese place up the block has a version.

        • witlesschum

          Like everything with maple syrup!

        • los

          maple syrup
          new england

      • howard

        you’ve never had fried chicken and waffles? oh yes, awesome indeed.

      • cleek

        ever get the honey with your McNuggets? it’s like that, but with a bit of tree flavor.

      • Origami Isopod
    • It’s one of those things that by all rights shouldn’t work, but it does somehow.

      • los

        sugars, oil/fats, salt, + flavorings

  • Vance Maverick

    Banksy is a latecomer for graffiti art. I believe the first clump of artists to get mainstream- or museum-famous starting that way included both Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Not to say there wasn’t appropriation going on, but it was not unambiguously black originators and white imitators.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Yeah, I was going to say that given Basquiat’s well-known role in moving “street art” into the realm of “fine art,” it seems bizarre to act as though African-American street artists didn’t receive any recognition.

  • Gareth

    Is Banksy white?

    • LeeEsq

      I’m not even sure if Banksy knows what he, she, or it looks like.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      If the individual who has appeared for various interviews as Banksy over the years actually is Banksy, then yes, he is. However, there’s also been pretty persistent speculation that Banksy is not an individual at all but rather a group of artists, in which case presumably some of them could be non-white.

  • LeeEsq

    May Ashkenazi Jews be equally upset about the culture appropriation of the bagel and challah? They are acknowledged as Jewish but what the gentiles do to the bagel is bad.

    • Just_Dropping_By
    • Fighting Words

      Nothing could be more authentic than a ham and cheese bagel.

    • (((Hogan)))

      “The Jews invented the bagel, but Dunkin’ Donuts made it cool.”

      –no one, ever

    • bender

      Challah, I can’t tell the difference who makes it and the point of challah AFAIK is that it’s especially nice delicate bread, so other people enjoying it is not surprising.

      I’m annoyed but not upset about the goyische bagel, since Ashkenazim have been well rewarded for their contributions to American popular culture. To an extent it’s like being a martini purist and walking into a bar where martinis come in twelve flavors. I just wish it were possible to get an authentic chewy fresh bagel where I live.

      • Challah, I can’t tell the difference who makes it and the point of challah AFAIK is that it’s especially nice delicate bread, so other people enjoying it is not surprising.

        Challah can be done badly. Indeed, every Friday evening the breadbaskets at the dinner tables here at the Old Fogies’ Home are furnished with challah that I find too delicate (and definitely too sweet; oh, and the portions are far too small); and my goyishe dislike of what we get is shared by—in many cases, to a much greater degree—by any number of octo- and nonagenarian Jews here (as well as the few septuagenarians I’ve eaten it with). Perfectly good challah is widely available throughout this area; I have no idea why we don’t get it.

        • Origami Isopod

          > Challah can be done badly.

          Supermarket challah is an abomination unto G-d.

  • How is this different from Buffalo wings (besides being maybe a different part of the chicken)?

    • cleek

      the ‘hot’ chicken i’ve had is basically breaded in generic chili powder then deep fried. a coating, not a sauce.

      i don’t love it.

    • Jackov

      You can approximate hot chicken by getting some good fried chicken and then putting a little hot sauce on it. Tapatio if you want LA pollo, Tabasco for Baton Rouge bird
      and Franks for Cincy chicken.

      Someday soon, some enterprising white person will invent Delta hot catfish
      using ‘non-bottom feeding’ fish and a proprietary spice blend.

      • portia

        Hot fish is already here, popularized by Bolton’s Chicken and Fish.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        There is a Japanese restaurant in my current city that serves it with Franks. Don’t ask me why…delicious though.

      • cleek

        Thai spicy fish is awesome.

    • los

      no matter trump’s tweets, never order the jackelope knuckles at the Ark Encounter Tower Grille, unless you see them properly descaled and debeaked.

  • MikeJake

    Some food journalist wrote a shoddy article, so White People are clearly up to no good.

  • portia

    Anyone interested in trying DIY hot chicken should check out Coop’s Hot Chicken Paste, which is pretty good.

  • LeeEsq

    Cultural appropriation is both a thing and something very difficult to describe precisely because one person’s example of cultural appropriation is another person’s example of multiculturalism in action. When you take the idea of cultural appropriation too far and too seriously than you can cross into the lines segregational thought and the assumption that all different cultural groups should keep to themselves, which isn’t really possible because most people belong to many cultural groups even if it doesn’t really look that way on the surface. For this reason, I think that accusations of cultural appropriation should be made with greater care than other accusations of racism.

    • bender

      I made an attempt to describe it precisely way upthread in the hip-hop discussion. It’s not any kind of borrowing; it’s exploitative borrowing.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      When you take the idea of cultural appropriation too far and too seriously than you can cross into the lines segregational thought and the assumption that all different cultural groups should keep to themselves, which isn’t really possible because most people belong to many cultural groups even if it doesn’t really look that way on the surface.

      Nah, c’mon, we can have a more nuanced discussion than that. No one, I repeat, no one is saying that white people shouldn’t eat hot chicken, or any other kind of food. It’s about providing appropriate context, history, and credit for food. It’s about patterns of white people eventually “discovering” things that non-white people have invented and turning them into something white. This is a problematic pattern. To point it out is not at all about separating people from each other; it’s about trying to correct a power imbalance.

      • sapient

        This is cultural appropriation.

        Recipes are not.

      • i8kraft

        I don’t know. In the last Loomis cultural appropriation megathread, there were people saying that eating quinoa was cultural appropriation.

        • Origami Isopod

          Some people are always going to say dumb shit, and that includes some people on the left.

          I can see the argument that eating quinoa contributes to the economic marginalization of the peoples for whom it’s a native food, but to me that kinda falls under “no ethical consumption under late capitalism.”

          • i8kraft

            Right, and of course that falls into the intersectionality of race and class. I think the people saying dumb shit on this issue are more of a problem than usual because of the lack of understanding of cultural appropriation out there (myself very much included). Muddying the waters on a widely misunderstood and only fairly recently popularized issue with an unintuitive name and without a commonly accepted concrete definition makes it unclear who fairly represents the actual idea, and who is a crackpot.

            If there is a commonly accepted, concrete definition, please point me to it, because I’ve been met with many different definitions in the past.

        • so-in-so

          IIRC, the issue in the quinoa piece was that the people who originally grew and consumed the grain were being bought out, and could no longer buy it for their own use because it was being bought up for export at prices that still didn’t benefit the farmer enough to make up for having to buy replacement food stuffs within the whole community.

          In this case, the issue would not be that white people have started eating hot chicken, but that the original restaurants offering it cannot (for racist reasons like availability of financing) participate in the expansion of the food beyond the Nashville black community but white businessmen can.

  • Brett

    If, at this point, you’re still writing articles where black people have been doing shit for years, going mostly unnoticed by white people, and it’s only when the white people come in and decide to monetize it that you declare it cool, then you are the problem with America.

    Given that America is still a majority-white country, wouldn’t something to have catch on hard with the white population for it to become “cool”?

    When something is popular only with a minority of the population, we don’t call it “cool”. We call it “niche”.

    • John Revolta

      Donald Trump is cool?

      • (((Hogan)))

        Yeah, I’m almost positive that’s not how “cool” works.

    • Nick056

      The original article has many, many comments by people offended over the description of Hattie B’s as starting a “craze.” However, that is a judgment call; if Hattie B’s is making the chicken more popular, they are starting a craze; the article itself, and the restaurant owner, both mention that Prince’s was around longer. It’s useful and essential even to draw a distinction between articles that either falsify recent history or omit crucial facts, and those articles that fail to place their central theme in a broad context, situated in history, so as to avoid the appearance of neglect or appropriation. To me, this article clearly falls in the latter category, and so it’s sins are minor. Besides, let’s face it, a restaurant with dedicated customers, who love it there are and are proud patrons, are going to be pissed off when someone else takes the concept, has more commercial success, and gets glowing reviews and media attention. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t mean the restaurant or the article are “appropriating” anything necessarily. All that said, Hattie is a name pretty common among African American women, and perhaps less common among white women, so that is a little troubling if the owner/operator is a white guy.

      • It’s nonproprietary.

        Which (anthropological) point of view is what surely informed Aimai’s comment way up there, no?

        • sapient

          Yes. I’m a fan of Aimai. But she’s a fan of Origami Isopod, and I am not a fan of Origami Isopod (except sometimes). Inexplicable.

          • Intransitivity is what makes, if not the world, at least the world of voting system reform, go around.

            • Vance Maverick

              Indeed, a transitive world contains no cycles.

      • i8kraft

        Someone upthread said that Hattie was the grandmother of one of the proprietors.

    • sapient

      Also, just to be mundane, there’s probably a reason that recipes aren’t subject to copyright protection.

      (Maybe, of course, because lots of recipes, including “hot chicken” were invented by women. But also, maybe, because food is like spoken language – something that is exchanged among people with lots of twists and turns and evolutions and love and eccentricities. It’s nonproprietary.)

    • Crusty

      That’s the opposite of cool.

    • bender

      Norman Mailer IIRC wrote an essay called “The White Negro” which made the point that ninety percent of hipster chic is white people imitating black people.

      • AMK

        It’s so true….but that doesn’t make it racist by default. Immitation as flattery, etc..

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I’m hoping that this is snark…

  • Whidby

    I thought Chickens came from Asia.

    How is that black folks invented a chicken dish again? Is that what somebody is claiming?

    • It is a variant on the Red Junglefowl, which is indeed from South and Southeast Asia.

      • los

        It is a variant on the Red Junglefowl, which is indeed from South and Southeast Asia.
        ok, but Red Junglefowl probably Tastes Like Chicken.

    • (((Hogan)))

      It isn’t a dish until you cook it.

  • Technical question: why does the “Reply” function get fucked up like this every so often? (I don’t know for sure that [email protected]:41 tried and failed reply to [email protected]:39, but I am damned sure that [email protected]:39 and [email protected]:49 were each meant to be, and composed as, replies to the comments immediately above them. Grrh.)

  • I don’t even like fried chicken all that much, but I will make a special trip to Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken any time I’m in Memphis.

    It’s that good.

    • Gwen

      Gus has branched out. There’s one in downtown Austin now. I ate there a couple months ago during a break in the Texas Linux Fest convention (Gus’s in Austin is a few blocks away from the Convention Center).

      I would have stopped at Gus’s tonight (see below about my travels) but I have a not-quite-housebroken wiener dog in the car with me, and so I wanted to stay as close to the hotel as possible for dinner to avoid unnecessary pooch drama.

  • gccolby

    Well this finally got me to de-lurk.

    I lived in Nashville for four years. My wife lived there for eight (we met there). My time happened to coincide with the opening of Hattie B’s in 2012. My wife and I are both big fans of hot food, and when we got around to trying hot chicken for the first time, we fell in love with it. This is probably pretty obvious, but we’re white. I lived for a while near midtown and then later we lived together a bit further out in the West End. All the hot chicken places (Prince’s, Bolton’s) were across the river in East Nashville. It was pretty exciting when Hattie B’s opened just up the street from where I used to work, and much closer to where we lived. We agreed we were pretty sure we liked Bolton’s a bit better, but it was good and of course it had more a restaurant “ambiance” with the seating and of course the beer and all the sides. It’s funny, given this discussion – “hot chicken for white people” is the EXACT PHRASE we used to describe it. Because that’s what it was – hot chicken, made safe and comfortable for white people to afraid to venture across the Cumberland into East Nashville. Never mind that that ship sailed forever ago, East Nashville is a very hot neighborhood for young white people now and already had that status when I came to town, though it was still quite a bit rougher than 12 South had become by then.

    Anyway, I don’t know much about the people behind Hattie B’s and it sounds like they’re aware of the heritage and don’t themselves mean to take credit for the dish. But I want to point out, hot chicken was exploding in popularity among white people (like us) before Hattie B’s took it to midtown and later to Charlotte Ave near White Bridge Pike – somewhat symbolically, as that’s mostly historically black area that’s changed tremendously since I first moved to Sylvan Heights in 2009. Point is, there’s no way Hattie B’s “made hot chicken cool.” They were able to capitalize on it when it became cool (with white people, yes). And whether the proprietors are guilty of appropriation or not, the reasons they were able to capitalize on it have a lot to do with systemic racism.

    • portia

      Agreed with all! It’s funny that hot chicken has made some of us de-lurk.

    • Origami Isopod

      And whether the proprietors are guilty of appropriation or not, the reasons they were able to capitalize on it have a lot to do with systemic racism.

      This is the best way to put it, I think.

  • Crusty

    This is almost totally unrelated, but one of the things I unexpectedly enjoyed the first time I visited Europe was seeing familiar fast food restaurants with the local spin. The interest was the local spin- that was interesting to learn, not the mere fact of seeing the golden arches. Anyway, in England, there were Indian items that wouldn’t fly in the U.S. and I think I remember some kind of peking duck type wrap at either KFC or Burger King and you wouldn’t see either here, but it was interesting to know that the Brits would have gone for that. And then there was the time I had a slice of pizza with corn on it from supermac’s in Ireland.

    • DocAmazing

      I recently moved to Hawai’i. You’d love McDonald’s in Hawai’i, with saimin and taro cakes on the menu.

      • cleek

        you can get lobster rolls in the McD’s in Maine and NH.

        • Warren Terra

          Can, but shouldn’t.

  • Gwen

    I can’t believe that we’ve gone 170 comments on a post involving Loomis and food and not one of them includes the word “ketchup” or any of its varieties.

    Might as well. Every time “cultural appropriation” comes up, it seems to generate more heat than light.

    I really like Bender’s comment above re: “borrowing” plus aggravating factors.

    Arguments over cultural appropriation are easily caricatured as “reverse-racism” in the sense that superficially the assertion that someone is appropriating a culture seems to sound like somehow culture is owned by a race or ethnic group. Culture isn’t really owned by anybody.

    What I like about Bender’s formula is it makes it clear that the real problem with “cultural appropriation” is the abuse of racial privilege to hide/erase intellectual dishonesty and/or unjust enrichment.

    Apropos of nothing/everything, I happen to be writing tonight from a hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee, and will be passing through Nashville tomorrow.
    Maybe I ought to try stopping at one of the original hot chicken locations (if my digestive track is not destroyed by Krystal burgers before then).

    • i8kraft

      Bender’s formula is the first time I’ve seen a formula. It’s been very useful in a way that all of those cultural appropriation megathreads generating so much heat before were not. It provides a framework for actual discussion that doesn’t end up in an angry, squirrelly mess.

      Edit: Well, it gives me hope at least.

  • sullivan2day

    Erik continues to find racism everywhere he looks – not even the chicken koop is safe!

    • Origami Isopod

      If you’re in the US and you’re not finding racism everywhere you look, you’re trying really hard not to.

  • Drexciya

    White people making money and getting the credit for the fruits of black creativity and black labor is an organic, apolitical and apparently inevitable byproduct of cultural interchange. So if and when Prince’s closes down or finds its knock-off competitor with a more viable and successful money-making scheme, it’ll be less because of the political advantages accrued by being able to properly signal “safety” (through location, aesthetic, palette and ownership) for white sensibilities and more because Prince’s labored under the oft-challenged delusion that something can or should belong to black people.

    • i8kraft

      The owners of Hattie B’s don’t seem to be taking any credit for hot chicken. Agreed on the rest, though.

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