Friday, May 24, 2013

Tiger, Serge and my appreciation for fried chcken

Before I get into the fried chicken war-of-words between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, I want to emphatically state for the record:

I love fried chicken!

And I might add, I have never fully understood why -- as an African- American -- my culinary delight for fried chicken should embarrass me. It's not like chicken is some sort of taboo food. And from my observations, white folks, brown folks, and yellow folks seem pretty fond of fried chicken as well.

After all, there are plenty of KFC's in Utah, India, China, Mexico, France, Islamabad and Israel. To be more exact: There are over 18,000 KFC outlets in 120 countries and territories around the world; Popeyes has over 1800 locations world wide; and Chick-fil-A has almost 2000 locations. And let us not forget, fried chicken is featured on the menu of many fine dining and five star restaurants.

That's a lot of fried chicken. Clearly, fried chicken has an international fan base.

But let's set aide fried chicken for a moment and play food word association (all in fun, of course). If I say pasta consumers, you think __________; rice eaters ___________; Taco lovers __________________; Jerk chicken diners __________________; bagels and lox ___________; Tandoori chicken ___________. You get the drill.....

So, again I ask: How did a food -- staple of  many African Americans (and white southerners), globally enjoyed by the world community, become a food with a negative connotation?

Back to Tiger and Sergio:

Sergio Garcia, a professional golfer, was recently asked if he would invite Tiger Woods for dinner during the upcoming U.S. Open. Garcia responded, “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.” The comment was undoubtedly referencing Woods’ ethnic background since he is one-quarter black and often perceived as black by the media and public. This was not exactly an inside joke between friends. On the contrary, Garcia and Woods have a history of rivalry including Garcia claiming that Woods distracted him during a shot at the Players Championship (Woods won the championship).  source

This -- to me -- is much ado about nothing: granted I recognize many African Americans are still offended by such comments:

Garcia’s “fried chicken” comment isn't just offensive because it plays off a stereotype of blacks. It also references the grim, historical period of slavery in America. Black slaves often ate fried chicken due to the fact that it was the only type of livestock they were allowed to raise for themselves. Chicken was considered the lowest on the hierarchy of consumable meats. Thus, making a comment about blacks eating fried chicken is a reminder of the historical oppression their ancestors once faced. Garcia, who is Spanish, did not understand the gravity of his remarks because he is privileged to not make that immediate association — or perhaps because he just didn't know the history. However, just because Garcia did not perceive his comment to be seriously offensive does not justify its usage. source

Tiger vs. Sergio reminds me of the 1998 movie Siege. In one tense scene (dealing with terrorism), the character played by Bruce Willis -- pissed off by the character played by Denzel Washington -- calls him an Ethiopian.

The Siege (1998)

Soldier: Get out of my face Hubbard, or I might just decide you're an Ethiopian!
Anthony 'Hub' Hubbard: You know, you are stupid enough to think that that's an insult. source

My exact response to Sergio: You know, you are stupid enough to think that that's an insult!

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