Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism isn't funny...

Nor is using racism (disguised as humor and veganism) to make money. Pattrice Jones does a masterful job of calling out these racist efforts.

When I first ran across stuff about this phenomenon I was both amused and made uneasy by my amusement. I was naive enough initially to presume that these creators of "thug kitchen" were African American while at the same time apprehending that if they weren't their offerings were blatantly racist.

A post on this blog recently noted: "Any "ethical" movement that believes business (or capitalism) will assist it (except by accident) is in for a rude and sad-making awakening at some point. So keep your eyes open for the processes of subversion and redirecting of purpose."

The thug kitchen stuff perfectly illustrates this. Their purpose is to accumulate money...and they don't really care how they do it or who they harm in the process even as they cover their goal (profit) under the blanket of veganism.

What they present is racism being exhibited (for monetary gain) while attempting to hide it under two more acceptable covers....humor and the promoting of veganism.

If you struggle with seeing this (and given the cultural narratives which teach us to obfuscate and hide oppression this is entirely possible) then try this mind experiment. Instead of "gangsta rap" vernacular imagine their presentation is made in English that mimics the accent (Hollywood version) of a native Chinese speaker (think Charley Chan) or that it is presented in the (Hollywood version) accent and/or language structure of a speaker of a Native American language (think Tonto) and you will likely more clearly see the inherent racism.

You may want to choose your own minority group and substitute those characteristics in the "thug kitchen" presentations...all the while keeping in mind that this is the creation of two white people whose goal is money and neither are they contributing any of that money to worthy causes nor or they apologizing for any offense toward the cultural group from which they are appropriating. In addition...they kept their identities hidden until they appeared to be assured of a monetary gain. Hiding of this sort should be a profound marker that something nefarious is occurring.

It's important to realize that maliciousness and harmfulness will adapt itself to contemporary ways of expression. Several decades ago "humorous" racism exhibited itself via 'minstrel shows' where ostensibly "harmless" (nevertheless malicious) fun was made (for profit) of various distortions of the language and the appearance of African Americans. The characters were white people made up to be caricatures of African American people.

The thug kitchen stuff is a 21st century version of a minstrel show and is even more viciously destructive and repugnant than those minstrel shows simply because we ought to know better by now and...they're using veganism to cover up their racism. Ostensibly helping one oppressed group (non-human animals) by making fun of another harmed group is a swap the victim proposition and one that should be rejected and ostracized by everyone.

Please read the post by Pattrice Jones...she does a much more precise and eloquent and thorough job of explaining this than I can.


Have Gone Vegan said...

Yes, the post by pattrice was superb. Have to admit I wasn't that familiar with the whole Thug Kitchen franchise or the controversy. Had a peek at the book a few weeks ago online but didn't get what the title was referring to, didn't find the swearing appealing or off-putting, and just wasn't sure why TK was getting so much attention.

Glad I got filled in! The follow-up post by pattrice is really good too.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. I have a mild aversion to "conferences" and the like but if the opportunity presented itself where there was an chance to maybe have some interaction with Ms. Jones...well...I would really love to have a conversation with her. I've been a fan of hers for a number of years now and that follow-up post is simply superlative...I totally agree.

The one bright spot about the TK debacle is that it offers the opportunity to do some learning and some consciousness expanding...and that's usually a good thing.