Shame on you, if you read the title and assumed this would be about black people. HA! I can’t lie, I’m so used to hearing the word thug being used in reference to my people in the media, I assumed that too. But, Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a Fuck, is a cookbook full of, get-your-lazy-ass-out-of-the-drive-thru, healthy meals.
The recipe page on their website is hilarious! It has titles like “If you like pina coladas, and motherfucking homemade ice cream”, which is the introduction for a recipe for pina colada ice-cream (obvi), and “Spring is here motherfuckers. Get yourself some goddamn asparagus. So what if it gives your pee extra funk? Who the fuck you trying to impress with that,” a recipe for spring asparagus risotto.
I love healthy food. I love it even more when someone else is cooking. But the site has some great recipes that I’d like to try. I do think it’s important to have the type of relationship with food where you’re not afraid to go to the supermarket or farmer’s market, then get into the kitchen, and make your own Chipotle like meals. Which is the goal of the site and book. They want you to eat like you give a fuck about what you ingest, which is awesome.
However, whatever surface fun I may have had when I initially looked at the Thug Kitchen video, and site, I am far too aware to distance myself from the apparent mockery of this thug concept. This country has a history of making fun of black and brown folks without batting an eye, and making it seem like it’s very ok to do so. From, Five Chinese Brothers to Speedy Gonzales to Tarzan, and far worse. There are a slew of caricatures that whites have created based on African American, Native American, Asian American—just every American of color—that many of the European majority, in this country, find endearing, funny, and reminiscent of a time when some of them were far more comfortable in the superiority of their relationships with us. Throughout the centuries, there have been images, cartoons, movies, articles, commercials, books and so on that are overtly racist, belittling, and defaming. Some of them have been more subtle, sucker punches. It’s those that we should be wary of.
I assume that the [steadily shrinking] majority (most of them, not all) think the worst about us. It’s not paranoia. We see examples of it every day, and most (but not all) black and brown people in America feel it daily. So, when I hear someone speaking in a certain tone, or using certain words, I’m on guard about their intentions. I make no apologies for that. The recipes that I’ve read, so far, make sure not to drop the Gs and Rs at the ends of words, as I’ve seen whites do before in effort to mock speech patterns (not to illustrate, but to mock). But they use words and terms in contexts which I think, whites think, is stereotypical of black Americans.
It comes back to us though. What do we expect of them? Do we expect that they don’t curse? That they are not thugs? That they all speak proper English, and that any cursing, thuggery or lax speech should be an allusion to minorities? Up until recent history, we’ve seen glossy, pristine images of European American life, and culture. But now we have reality television. I think about the whites I’ve seen on reality TV and talk shows, and then I think about one of them writing a cookbook. If the cast of Duck Dynasty, or the adults on Honey Boo Boo, wrote a cookbook, in their own words, and had it professionally edited, to reign in the ignorance, it may sound like, Thug Kitchen.
Just when I would possibly give them the benefit of the doubt, I see images that gave me pause. Like the dog with the gold chain. But that could easily represent an Italian American, as they also have the gold chain thug stereotype. Then there’s the “Shit is Getting Real” pic, with the guy eating a wrap, wearing the vato shirt. But that could easily just be some white boy with a plaid shirt. But I know both cases are alluding to black and brown folks. Not to mention some of the terms in other introductions to their recipes and the recipes themselves. But again, how do whites outside of sitcoms talk? A lot of them sound like an episode of Jerry Springer. Not to mention that black slang has been absorbed into the larger culture, so that in some cases, they are using words, the origins of which they don’t even know.
This post is as ambiguous as I feel. Ultimately, I don’t care. I try not to get up in arms about [some] European Americans and the shit they do. They do so much that I’d be mad all day long, and I don’t like using my energy for being upset about silly things. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel when people think they are being slick or sly, and try to pass it off as tongue-in-cheek, or as something that shouldn’t be taken offensively. European Americans are expert at offending people, then telling them not to be so sensitive. It’s a form of mental self-preservation—they always believe they are right. But I strive not to let it get to me. Not in a, forgive-and-forget, way. But in a, your-life-does-not-dictate-my-life, kind of way.
So, with all of that being said, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going to this website and/or getting this book. Aside from the culturally mocking sales pitch, the intended message is we (people period) need to eat better, and we have the ability to do so. Plus,we all need a good laugh sometimes. Hey, I wrote a book about masturbation that probably offended people too. I actually like what they say in the video. People eat in a very lazy fashion. That’s a very western trait. Just eat anything! Regardless of nutritional value. If it tastes good, then eat it. It’s put America, in particular, in the position where for the first time in history, children aren’t expected to outlive the ages of their parents. Life spans are getting shorter, as opposed to getting longer, as they have for every other generation. Eating bullshit is pivotal in that change.
Everything offends someone. Race, however, is a hot issue, because, unlike masturbation (in 21st century America anyway) people are jailed and killed based on race. Lives are destroyed by racial profiling. That must not be over looked or made light of. But this book is clearly some silly white boy marketing ploy that I just don’t have the energy to be properly upset about. Not when the police are still stopping protesters in Ferguson, and are brutalizing citizens throughout the country. Not while an election is coming up next month that far too many won’t participate in, because they don’t understand the importance of voting for their congressmen. Not while women are still in 2014 not getting equal pay for equal work, and our reproductive health is being determined by out of touch men. Not while climate change is being denied. Not while mass murders are happening, but people still don’t want gun reform. Not in the face of the industrialized prison system that uses black and brown people to boost stock portfolios.
It’s cute to be mad about Thug Kitchen. I put this in the category of the Taylor Swift video. Not at all in the company of the real issues we face daily. Issues that deserve all of our mad, upset, and angry energy.
Still, it is nice to let them know, they aren’t being slick, and we see them. I see you Thug Kitchen.
I also see that they have 53k followers, but, as of this post, only follow 190 people. That’s kind of a dick move, huh? Follow more of your followers back! At least attempt to make them feel like it’s not all about the money. I’ve only been truly active on Twitter for about two months, or so, and it seems that part of the etiquette of companies, celebs, etc… is to follow back at least half of their followers. But to each his own. Hey, who am I to talk? They are following more people than I have following me, so… shrugs. LOL