September 07, 2013

Chicken War

This will sound ridiculous, but only because it is.

A few weeks back a Colorado senator made some remarks about fried chicken. That senator was Vicki Marble, a republican, and the context was a discussion about poverty. The gist was that she said since black folk tend to have a genetic predisposition towards certain ailments (sickle-cell anemia, diabetes) they have to be more careful about their diet. Where it got real messy was when she went on to say that she'd been to the south and really enjoyed the food. That food being chicken and barbeque, a lot of folks got all offended. Public servant (& noted shoplifter) Rhonda Fields jumped on the opportunity to be "more offended than thou" for example. And even conservative groups pointed out that while Marble's intent likely wasn't malicious, it wasn't a cool delivery of her ideas. Marble issued a statement apologizing for any offense and clarifying that her remarks were not intended to disparage or stereotype anyone.

I figured that'd be the end of it, but no.

"GOP lawmaker denies fried chicken was protest, claims coincidence"

A Colorado republican had the temerity to have chicken! For lunch! Rep. Lori Saine had a box of Popeye's chicken openly and flagrantly visible at a committee hearing. While she claims she was “simply having lunch” we all know that a white person eating chicken in a mixed-race gathering is an indication that they're kicking off their campaign for Grand Dragon! /sarcasm

The democrats of course have been making a big deal out of this. An anonymous witness heard Saine claiming it was a "silent protest" (note; proper fried chicken cannot be a silent experience. If there ain't no crunch when you take a bite you should ask for your money back). Another (this one named) claims Saine had a box lunch from Udi's that consisted of an egg salad sandwich and some fruit.

Saine denies any intent other than just liking chicken, but democrats have been calling for her resignation. (I will point out that Colorado democrat party chairman Rick Palacio didn't call for any resignation by those who voted for laws that conflict with 2 constitutions by imposing on Coloradans Right to Arms.) But that kind of thing from the democrats is to be expected. Where it gets real stupid is in the GOP reaction:

"Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call called Saine’s actions 'insensitive and hurtful.'

In a statement he said, 'Saine’s actions on Wednesday do not represent the Colorado Republican party' and 'she must apologize for them.”

See why the dems took over the legislature here? The republicans are so cowed that any mention of racism has them turning on their own quicker than you can say "love that chicken from Popeyes". Without any real proof that Saine's actions were deliberate and malicious, the GOP should stick by her. She claims she was just having chicken for lunch. So does this mean the Colorado GOP is anti-chicken? They got something against Southern food now, since Saine's fried chicken lunch does not represent the Colorado republican party?

The only real controversy I can see is calling Popeyes chicken. I mean it'll get ya by in a pinch, but Bojangles is actual chicken (though sadly there's not a Bojangles in Colorado, so to these heathens out here that think a hushpuppy is some kind of shoe perhaps Popeye's is real chicken to them. An actual Southerner, however, will question any alleged fried chicken coming from a place that serves trans fat free biscuits!).

I grew up in the South. Chicken wasn't a racist thing. Growing up I never understood the stereotype, as white and black folk alike appreciated properly fried chicken. When my neighborhood received an influx of Hmong, they too came to appreciate the tastiness of yardbird. So to me it never had anything to do with race. Chicken was cheaper than beef, and it was pretty good when fried right. The same goes for watermelon or any other stereotypically "black" food; in the South it was just food with no real demarcation line according to melanin levels. If anything, certain foods are indicative of income levels rather than race. Chicken is cheap, and poor white people in the South (and presumably elsewhere) are just as likely to eat chicken as poor black people. But, even that's not reliable as in the South, fried chicken is a cultural thing, so rich white and black folk aren't adverse to properly fried chicken.

All that is to point out that the association with chicken as some sort of racist gesture is nonsensical to me, or to anyone who grew up south of the Masie-Dixie line.

But here in Colorado - the place that was formerly part of America - what you have for lunch is indicative of your racial sensitivity. And should any accusation, no matter how trifling, be hurled, expect the Colorado GOP to abandon you faster than you can say "dirty rice".

I fully expect to see the Colorado republican party implode if any member is caught on Halloween with their kid dressed up as a ghost in a white sheet, or be quoted as saying they got some good deals at a white sale.

With any luck at all, this will be the end of the chicken controversy. I don't count on being lucky though, and I'm sure some GOP designated food monitor will find some sort of racist food in some senators lunchbox within weeks and make a statement.

The shroud of the dark meat has fallen. Begun, the chicken war has.

(Pictures from here and here respectively.)

Posted by Publicola at September 7, 2013 11:27 PM | TrackBack

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