You ever seen a gangsta-azz pot roast my n****???
“Thug Kitchen” Writers Revealed As White, Under Fire For Use Of
Earlier this week, a hard-hitting investigation by Epicurious revealed that the food blog (and upcoming cookbook) Thug Kitchen—a brand that got popular by writing recipes in a tone reminiscent of African American Vernacular English—is run by two WASPy white people from California, Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, whom Epicurious refers to as “masterminds.”
For the uninitiated, Thug Kitchen’s recipes are sold with phrases like “Don’t fuck around with some sorry-ass ten-dollar takeout,” and “This holiday season bake a batch of these spiced sons of bitches.” The tone has led many people to deride the “Thugs,” as Davis and Holloway wish to be called, as “deceptive” and “a lot like the latest iteration of nouveau blackface.” Others criticized the title of Thug Kitchen for its use of the word thug, something that has been deemed a code word—that is, a “polite way to say ‘nigger’ in mixed company.”
The backlash to the revelation that Thug Kitchen is written by white people has inspired a backlash of its own. Detractors of Davis and Holloway’s critics point out that automatically associating the word thug with black men is itself racist. But there’s no denying that the word has historically been used as a weapon to condemn people of color.
As many have pointed out, last year, when 26-year-old Stanford grad and Compton native Richard Sherman played the game of a lifetime and served an integral role in sending the Seattle Seahawks into the Super Bowl, he gave an impassioned post-game speech in which he called out his opponents’ perceived slights against him. He didn’t even curse, but he was immediately labeled a thug, presumably because his skin color and dreadlocks fit the description of what people typically associate with that word.
Yeah, you’d be hard-pressed to find many caucasian “thugs” out in the media….
One thing is clear: For the upwardly mobile white Angelinos behind Thug Kitchen, the word thug is ironic and funny, a bit of culturally exploratory fun. But for men like Sherman and Pegues, it’s a putdown meant to demonize and dehumanize.
You don’t have to look very hard to find white and non-black people profiting off of what could traditionally be deemed black culture. Urban Outfitters sells a book called Understand Rap, written by William Buckholz, a white freelance writer from Seattle, who “demystifies” rap by explaining “confusing rap lyrics” so that “you and your grandma can understand.”
More infamously, the coder frat bros behind Rap Genius received a $15 million infusion in their company from angel investor Andreessen Horowitz. But they stole a large bounty of their lyrics from an original hip-hop lyrics website and profit from the works of primarily African American artists. Meanwhile, their private internal chatroom was a mess of cultural insensitivity and crude racial jokes.
Whether or not Holloway and Davis would have received a book deal if they were black is up for debate, but what isn’t is the way the word thug has been used to insult black men and women in the United States.
Herein lies the question, which is the REAL evil? White people releasing a book called “Thug Kitchen”, or seeing the word “thug” and automatically attributing it to a black male?
Do you think they are mocking our dialect or are black folks being too sensitive toward a benign book title?
Flip the page to read some reactions from both whites and blacks toward the ongoing controversy, you might just be surprised…
Image via Twitter