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.