Come to Dinner with Me in Charlotte July 28th!

ABOUT THIS EVENT

Menu:

Okra Soup

Mary Randolph’s Yeast Rolls

Fried Chicken

Madeira Ham

Cornbread Kush

Sautéed Greens

Peach Cobbler

Food for thought and for your palate with Culinary Historian Michael W. Twitty

The Harvey B. Gantt Center is a proud partner with Duke Energy in presenting the new Heritage & History series. This program series features nationally noted artists and scholars who are preserving Black culture through an array of disciplines. In hosting each culture keeper, the Gantt Center invites public participation in special events and experiences that illuminate important stories and engage audiences.


Presenting Sponsor

Headquartered in Charlotte, Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.4 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Visit Duke Energy’s website here.

#Gantt2016 #FeastOnCulture

BUY Tickets here

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My Appearance on PBS Newshour

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/why-you-cant-talk-about-the-southern-kitchen-without-slaves-contributions/

Many thanks to Mark Scialla and John Yang for making this happen. Since the announcement that Jack Daniels’ owes it’s recipe to Neelus Green, the conversation over culinary appropriation and recognizing the creative capital of the enslaved has come back to life. Here is a link to the short interview with John Yang as well as a transcript which I have copied and pasted here for you as well. I appreciate PBS and PBS Newshour for hosting me and giving voice to the important story of early  African American distillers, cooks, chefs, bartenders and caterers.

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Why you can’t talk about the Southern kitchen without slaves’ contributions

The recipe for the bestselling brand of American whiskey wasn’t simply the invention of its founder — it was greatly influenced by a slave who worked for the distiller. That public acknowledgment by Jack Daniel’s helps raise broader questions about America’s culinary heritage and the under-appreciated contributions of African-Americans. John Yang talks to culinary historian Michael Twitty.

JOHN YANG: Grilling outdoors and drinking cold refreshments aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Declaration of Independence, but they’re both a big part of how we celebrate the Fourth of July.

This next segment was inspired by some recent revelations about the bestselling brand of American whiskey. Last week, The New York Times reported that Jack Daniel’s founder actually learned a lot about making whiskey from a slave who worked for the same distiller.

While that’s been known before, it hasn’t been widely advertised. Now the company is starting to acknowledge their complicated history on its distillery tours in Tennessee. That has some people asking questions about the heritage of American whiskey and about other culinary matters in the South.

Michael Twitty is a culinary historian. I sat down with him to get his perspective.

Michael Twitty, welcome.

MICHAEL TWITTY, Culinary Historian: Hi.

JOHN YANG: How common was this? Jack Daniel’s knew for a long time about the role of this slave named Nearis Green in the development of the company, but they just never talked about it. How common was that in the development of food and drink across the South?

MICHAEL TWITTY: Enslaved people were involved in every single aspect of Southern life.

Even when someone didn’t — quote — “own enslaved people” or own slaves — we prefer to say enslaved people or enslaved person — enslaved folks were doing the work.

And it’s very interesting, because you read these journals and writings of Southern planters, and it’s as if their hands are in the dirt, it’s as if their fingers are on the bricks, it’s as if their hands are in the kitchen and their hands are on the shovels. But they are not.

And so enslaved people are often hired out to work for other people. Distillers were experts. They were skilled workers. So, that is another form of income.

So, if you are only making so much of a cash crop, a lot of your money is going to come from in the hills and the piedmont from making alcohol, which is substantial. So, that enslaved person would have been very valuable and very necessary to an operation of that sort.

JOHN YANG: But they weren’t just providing the labor.

MICHAEL TWITTY: No.

JOHN YANG: They were helping develop and create the craft of what they were doing.

MICHAEL TWITTY: Oftentimes, they were the brains.

And, unfortunately, because enslaved people were considered three-fifths of a person, they aren’t being given credit for their intellectual capital. So, when an enslaved person invents something or innovate something, they improve something, that credit is being given to the slave holder, not to the enslaved.

And that this does over time is, it sets up for a really bad paradigm, where we think, these poor people, they were just the machines, they were just set to do a task. And the reality is, no, these were innovative, entrepreneurial, intelligent people.

You don’t set — you don’t bring a bunch of idiots to your country to build it. You bring geniuses. And a lot of times, that is what was going on. They were expert horticulturists. They were expert blacksmiths. They were expert distillers.

But the unfortunate part is, we know there were more people like Mr. Green, but will we ever know their names or their stories or what they could have been had they been free men and women?

JOHN YANG: And the influence is more than just liquor and distilling and fermenting alcohol.

MICHAEL TWITTY: Yes.

JOHN YANG: It is was through what we now think of as Southern cooking, right?

MICHAEL TWITTY: Oh, absolutely.

And I was just part of an ongoing debate, which will never end, over the ownership of Southern cooking. And the best way to put it is, is that this is a co-created world. It’s a co-created world between Africans, Europeans and Native Americans and others who are making up Southern-ness and American-ness as they go.

But I would like to always quote art historian Robert Farris Thompson, who says, until you know how African you are, you don’t know how American you are.

So, all of these pieces are woven in together. And you can’t possibly talk about the Southern kitchen without talking about peanuts or sesame or okra or watermelon or deep frying or barbecue or other forms of cooking techniques and spicing and ways of looking at food that are uniquely part of the African diaspora.

JOHN YANG: What do you think of Jack Daniel’s distillery now acknowledging the role that this man played in the development of the company and of the product?

MICHAEL TWITTY: Well, I think it’s pretty critical.

I think that we are at a point where the pushback — and I have led some of that pushback — talking about cultural appropriation, talking about giving credit where credit is due — sometimes, I recoil, because I feel, oh, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.

But when I hear news like this, I know I am. And other people who are like me are rewriting the history of American food and drink, not just because we want to talk about the past, but we have brilliant black mixologists, brilliant black bartenders in the now whose legacy we can not only celebrate, but preserve, so people know that Mr. Green didn’t die in vain.

JOHN YANG: Michael Twitty, thanks for being with us/

MICHAEL TWITTY: Thank you very much.

To learn more:

http://www.common-place-archives.org/vol-11/no-03/twitty/

Ole Missus vs. Mammy: Who Owns Southern Food?

How a Chef Is Exposing the Hidden Racism in ‘Southern’ Kitchens

Kosher Soul Food Brings Together African-American and Jewish Cuisine

Posted in Cultural Politics, Events and Appearances, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ole Missus vs. Mammy?: Who Owns Southern Food?

https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/ole-missus-vs-mammy-who-owns-southern-food

I want to thank my editor at VICE Media’s food focused Munchies site, Matt Zuras and editor-in-chief Helen Hollyman for their incredible faith in my ability to take on a response to the piece “Edna Lewis and the Mythology Behind Southern Food.” by Cynthia Bertelsen.  Cynthia and I have known each other since I got my start many years ago, but the essay she most recently penned was difficult. It’s thesis was directly aimed at the heart of culinary justice.  Ownership as I explain in the VICE piece is not about putting up racial barriers, it’s about assuming responsibility and being proactive about passing on our heritage as a heritage. The Bertelsen essay seems to sound a clarion call for a type of reverse culinary racism that is a myth in the minds of the aware. 

This question of Southern food and its origins is powerful. It says a lot about who we are and how we view ourselves. It’s also a billion dollar industry, much of it out of reach for Southern black people. I poured my heart into this piece and hope you appreciate the nuances I had to dance around–academic vs. Popular food writing. The past keeps haunting us because we have not truly confronted it.

Consider me a ghost hunter.

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Photo by Jacob W. Dillow

If you feel as though you’ve learned a lot from the posts please consider supporting my work through PayPal. My readers were successful in raising $$ on Twitter last month and that enabled me to get a new pot, new redware and other essential cooking equipment to use in the field. If you learned something today and are moved to #gimmeahigh5$ please do so, I am Koshersoul@gmail.com on PayPal (you can use that pretty golden button here on the blog to get there)   In advance, I thank you. This essay represents what indendent scholars can do they have want your support.  5 bucks..give up that expensive coffee one morning and you have done your part.

Thank you!

Posted in African American Food History, Cultural Politics, Food People and Food Places, Food Philosophy at Afroculinaria, Heirloom Gardening/Heritage Breeds and Wildcrafting, Jewish Stuff, Pop Culture and Pop Food, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Kosher/Soul Mac and Cheese Kugel

http://theweiserkitchen.com/recipe/koshersouls-mac-cheese-noodle-kugel/

Recipe is in the above link.

I love macaroni and cheese and I love kugel.  This original recipe of mine, presented on Tami Weiser’s Weiser Kitchen blog, shows you how to fuse both soul and Ashkenazi Jewish cooking together to make a dish full of flavor and history. I really hope you enjoy it and make it to go with your favorite summer treats. It’s the best of both worlds and makes a spectacular side dish for a potluck or holiday meal. Essen mit simcha!

As an African American who happens to be Jewish, or a Jew who happens to be African American, I am obligated to love two things—macaroni and cheese and kugel.  They are basically the same idea–only they aren’t.  Kugel seemed to me a weird sweet cinnamony macaroni and cheese—without the right cheese and because kashrut demands a separation of dairy and meat, I had to get used to eating macaroni and cheese as an entree or appetizer rather than as a side dish since it’s traditionally eaten with a number of meat dishes in buffet form.  But, when in the shtetl–eat as the Jews do–so I learned how to love it.  I make traditional kugels with cream cheese and sugar and raisins and the like and I make Southern kugels with peaches and crumble toppings and different types of spices. 

Macaroni and cheese had several introductions into American life, but the most important was by way of James Hemings, an enslaved chef held by Thomas Jefferson. You’ve probably heard that Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni and cheese–he kinda did, he certainly imported a macaroni making machine to aid the preparation of the dish when he got back to his mountaintop home at Monticello.  However it was James who learned the recipe and “hooked it up.”  Macaroni and cheese and kugel are essentially descended from a late Medieval era pasta like dish that emerged in Italy and spread into France and England.  Jefferson’s Black cooks’ success was not so much in replicating French cuisine-which they could certainly do–but they added touches and flourishes of the South and African American foodways such as they knew.  Over time, “macaroni pie” as it was called, and is still called in the Caribbean became a popular celebration dish among African Americans and for many became a soul food staple. 

So here’s my challenge–how do I enjoy a koshersoul macaroni and cheese that’s also a kugel—here’s my answer–after much experimentation. 

Photo by Tami G. Weiser.

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Posted in African American Food History, Diaspora Food Culture, Jewish Stuff, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Publications, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing About Food at the Intersection of Gayness, Blackness & Faith

http://food52.com/blog/17071-writing-about-food-at-the-intersection-of-gayness-blackness-faith

Enjoy this piece I did for Food52 about being a Black, gay, living history interpreter of historical Southern food. Enjoy.

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It’s an honor to speak to my fellow human beings about being human.

Posted in African American Food History, Food and Slavery, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Gay and This Is Why You Should Care

I don’t write often on here about my sexual orientation because this blog focuses on my journeys through African American food history.  I came out when I was 16 years old in my school newspaper, and I was scared but I was ready to stand up for being who I was.  

Wow…I’ve been out for 23 years….

Over the years I waxed and waned in how open I was about my orientation because frankly there were people around whom it wasn’t particularly safe to be honest about who I was.  But this is a moment where the word irrevocable is in order. I will never do that dance again to accommodate the weak sensibilities based on prejudice.  Prejudice it has been said, is nothing more than an emotional commitment to ignorance.  If you know anything about my work, I can’t countenance that.  For the most part I have spent the past few years as an openly gay food writer, historical interpreter and activist–but now let’s make it official–I’m gay and that’s not going to change–and its a part of not merely my erotic or romantic sensibilities but also what I believe makes my soul’s recipe unique and powerful.

This isn’t about Michael Twitty, but I can only speak to you from my gut as a Black, Gay, Jewish man who loves his people.  We have over 100 people dead or wounded because of one man’s (nation’s?) inner conflict–over his sexuality, over cultural identity, nationalism and masculinity–problems he (we) resolved (resolve) with a dangerous semi-automatic weapon that shouldn’t be on the streets.  We are reeling–we are living in a world that is being ripped apart at the seams by baseless hatred and the human cost–in the lives of elementary school children, club goers, movie attendees and everyday people is real.  We have thought it a luxury to study how we got here (knowing our history, being culturally literate and aware) –but in the meanwhile–the ancient prejudices, hatred and misunderstandings passed down through centuries of blood vengeance and angst have come to roost in a very 21st century way.  We are not only an audience to tragedy but we are participants in a ritual of horror, disgust, shame followed by cycles of numbness, amnesia and nostalgia for pain.  It is our special insanity that only technology and nihilism in a bitter marriage can produce.

The people who were murdered and injured were not as some demonic pseudo-pastors have suggested—“pedophiles,” and any suggestion from someone that human beings are trash to be taken out removes all doubt that the individual speaking is not only no longer themselves human, but has forsaken the gift of being made in the image of G-d.  Among the dead were mothers who supported their sons, young men committed to the loves of their lives, women who loved women, transgendered people who were standing tall, productive members of society, straight friends and allies, bartenders, bouncers, people who sought the love and humor and light of their community space to sustain em through life’s troubles and the stress of another week.  They were human. They were American. Many were Puerto Rican in heritage or Black American and Lord knows we cousins….have faced our trials… Those who did not fall face a lifetime of post-traumatic stress and depression, physical healing therapy, permanent mental and physical damage and the cyclical mourning of lost friends and family.

Before I say another word—I want to ask peace and healing upon the living and wish peace on those who were murdered:

–Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Antonio Davon Brown, Darryl Roman Burt II, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Juan Chavez Martinez, Luis Daniel Conde, Cory James Connell, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Deonka Diedra Drayton, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Paul Terrel Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Benjamin Josephat, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Anthony Laureano Disla, Christopher “Drew” Andrew Leinonen, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez,  KJ Morris, Akyra Money Murray, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Enrique L. Rios, Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Yilmary Rodriguez-Solivan, Edward Sotomayor Jr. Shane Evan Tomlinson, Martin Benitez Torres, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis S. Vielma, Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velazquez, Luis Daniel Lestat Wilson-Leon, Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright.

May your names be etched forever upon our hearts with those of all who have been martyred for simply being themselves.   We wish only peace and love and light on all those you have left behind, and we ask of us that we would be responsible for our brothers and sisters to come that such a thing will never happen again.  We will do this not through merely words of faith but by action, activism, taking a stand and being courageous–our dedication to permanent positive change will be our prayer.

Lo’ ta’amod al dam reyecha! THOU SHALL NOT STAND IDLY BY THE BLOOD OF YOUR NEIGHBOR!

I will confess that nearly 400 years of lynchings, assassinations, targeted murders, domestic terrorism and the oppression of my people prepared me for this.  That’s not bragging–that’s horrific–but it is my circumstance of birth. 300 here, 200 there…Fort Pillow, Rosewood, Charleston, Tulsa, Washington, Baltimore, St. Louis… I want you to understand I had a grandmother who remembered seeing the body parts of lynching victims displayed in store windows in Alabama as a grotesque and gruesome reminder to “keep the niggers down.”  I had a great-grandfather who was jailed and almost lynched for being a Black man in a soldier’s suit in a town where a white woman had accused “a Negro” of being her assailant.  I am the product of the children of multiple rapes against Black women by slaveholders and overseers.  We were denied equal access to education, opportunity and the right to the wealth this country was built on.  I was prepared for this moment by being a son of the African Diaspora, cast into the Atlantic world by circumstances beyond his control and beyond the control of those who came before me. Our story is not just our wounds but our armor–our resistance (in the words of William D. Piersen) too civilized to notice–of problems stated in terms of music and solved in dance–of thundering speeches of moral suasion, triumph despite adversity–strong women making strong daughters, strong sons with a charge to keep—of an enslaved people who turned the tables on their enslavers and with wit, humor and courage–enslaved the cultures that enslaved them with the breath and verve of ancient, enduring Africa–how she loved, how she prayed, how she danced, sang, spun words, walked, talked, felt and cooked.

I am by blood and by choice of a son of Israel. I cast my lot with a people who have wandered the earth driven by a will to survive the hatred against us for placing our faith in a singular, individual G-dhead.  We were told we were destined for extermination not long after we were born, and many tried and often did exact terrible and bloody attacks–and still do–against us—none so awful as the Shoah–when nearly 6 million of us died, many of us affirming the oneness of our G-d and the oneness of our people.  We are a long list of men and women, few in number with an impact as incalculable as the stars. Moses and Jonas, Jesus and Mel, Bella and Gilda and Golda and Julius and Angela and Juan and Ofra and Asenath Barzani and The Maid of Lublin…. We persevere–we place ourselves in the shoes of our Ancestors and reenact their footsteps across the globe in search of the days when Isaiah’s prophecies will come true and humanity with live in ethical and moral balance with the basic principle that we are indeed betzelem Elokim–made in the image of the Lord.

I am gay, I am a homosexual, I am a same-gender loving queer cisgendered nearly perfect Kinsey-6. I come from people burned at the stake, I come from people who were stoned, I come from men and women who were forced into loveless marriages, I come from hidden loves and love that dares not speak its name.  I come from Michelangelo and DaVinci and James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin and Alexander the Great.  Bessie Smith and Audre Lorde and Joan of Arc and Sappho and Lily Tomlin. I come from Rabbis who secretly wrote poems about how they wish they were born women and blues men who sang about having “sissy man” blues and berdaches, drag kings and drag queens. I am the burned out nightclub in New Orleans that left 43 dead, I am the Oscar Wilde going to jail and special ordering gay books by phone as a teenager, picnics at Roosevelt Island, kisses at the rain at the National Zoo, holding hands at an art museum, making dinner for his family, I am dancing at the gay club–and voguing–and walking runway and attempted death drops and blowing a whistle at 20, VIP at 25, dancing until I almost died at 39, making a happy fool out of myself at Pride.

Many wear the moniker of oppressed, of marginalized and downtrodden.  We are not our scars, we are not our wounds, we are not bruises and broken parts–we are the healing after these, the strength assumed after centuries of defeat—the marches that paid off, the dream of praying without pogrom, kicking our legs up and scaring the hell out of the NYPD in 1969—that’s our culture–that’s our identity–that’s who we really are–we are getting back up one more time.

Do you feel better now, do you feel magnanimous and heroic, do you feel stronger and proud?  Well I’m about to make you feel like shit, not because I’m a jerk–but because I have to.

Intersectionality is not just some buzz word that came from the trickle down from a liberal college’s syllabus…it is my life. I live this word everyday. You probably do to…

It is a reality many of us live–including the negative one responsible for this tragedy–may his name be erased.  Our ability to navigate and negotiate the fine lines created by our bordercrossing is what keeps us sane or causes us to lose all sense of truth.

I have been on this planet about 40 years. I am green–and in the long stretch of cells, rocks, patches of sky and tree rings–young, an infant, insignificant.

I was born 8 years after Stonewall. I was born 5 years after the New Orleans club arson attack.  I was a kid when AIDS first reared its head.  I have seen and touched the quilt on the national Mall–I have marched with people who didn’t know me—I remember the big march in 2000–I was at the national vigil for Matthew Shepard–I remember both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and its repeal. I was there when that bastard child DOMA was born.   In the shadow of the Charleston church attack I remember the day marriage equality was finally achieved.  I hugged Margaret Cho in a DC dance club, saw Willie Ninja work a ballroom floor, and stuck dollar bills into the jockstraps of many of my favorite——well–“actors…”

And yet–

I know we can vote, I know we can fight for gun control laws, I know we can advocate that anti-discrimination laws be codified and that parental equality and bathrooms be resolved.  We can shout from the rooftops we are mad, angry, heartbroken and sad.  We are reeling and hurt and feel as though we personally have been affected.  But then there’s tomorrow and the day after that….and we are right back to…..

NO BLACKS ITS JUST A PREFERENCE DUDE. SORRY, GOOD LUCK….

GAYS ARE JUST WHITE MEN TRYING TO GET OVER ON US.

ITS GETTING TOO DARK IN HERE–TOO MANY BLACK GUYS IN THIS CLUB>.

HOMOSEXUALITY IS FORBIDDEN BY THE TORAH IN FACT A HOMOSEXUAL IS LIKE  AN ORANGE ON A SEDER PLATE…

NO ASIANS, NO FATS, NO FEMMES.

AIDS IS NOT A BLACK PROBLEM.

THESE PEOPLE ARE IMMORAL AND THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OUR CHILDREN, NO JEW WAS EVER GAY.

CAN I SEE TWO FORMS OF ID BEFORE I LET YOU IN OUR LILY WHITE GAY CLUB?

LETS MAKE A STONEWALL MOVIE THAT DOESN’T REFLECT AT ALL THE ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND GENDER SPECTRUM THAT WAS ACTUALLY AT STONEWALL…

GAYNESS IS A WHITE SICKNESS SENT TO DESTROY BLACK MEN AND TURN OUR WOMEN INTO MEN.

NO WOMEN.

IN AFRICA THEY DIDN”T TOLERATE HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS AND FAGGOTS–THEY WERE PUT TO DEATH.

MASC FOR MASC ONLY, QUEENY GUYS AND LEATHER GUYS ARE AN EMBARASSMENT–WHY CAN”T WE JUST BE NORMAL AND STRAIGHT ACTING AND APPEARING?

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT BLACKS–THEY ARE ALL HOMOPHOBIC ANYWAY…THEY DON’T SUPPORT US AND THEY ARE BACKWARDS ANYWAYS…

THE JEWS ARE JUST WHITE PEOPLE CLAIMING TO BE HEBREWS.

YOU’RE NOT REALLY JEWISH–YOU”RE JUST A CONVERT.

JEWS-AND THEIR BOOK OF JEWISH FAIRY TALES AND THEIR SILLY MADE UP GOD AND ABUSIVE PRACTICE OF CIRCUMCISION IS THE REASON WHY. ..

I LOVE BLACK WOMEN BECAUSE THEY ARE SASSY AND FUN AND COOL BUT BLACK MEN ARE DIRTY AND THEY HAVE AIDS AND THEY STEAL YOUR STUFF…

I LOVE GAY HAIRDRESSERS AND CHOIR DIRECTORS, ITS A SHAME THEY ARE GOING TO HELL.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TALKING TO THAT BLACK GUY–PEOPLE MIGHT THINK YOU LIKE “DARK MEAT….”

SOME OF OUR BLACK WOMEN HAD TO BE THE MAN OF THE HOUSE SO LONG THEY BECAME LESBIANS.

JEWS ARE JUST BLOODSUCKERS…

“SCHWARTZES” (YIDDISH FOR BLACK) ARE NICE WHEN THEY KNOW THEIR PLACE.

WHO CARES IF THEY HAVE TO MOVE OUT OF THIS NEIGBORHOOD?–WE MAKE IT BETTER.

HEY MICHAEL—“So are you actually Jewish?  Why can’t you just be Black?”

HEY MICHAEL—“You’re the whitest Black guy I know….”

HEY MICHAEL—“You’re not really a bear–because you don’t have enough hair–and besides thats why I don’t find African American men as attractive…”

HEY MICHAEL—-“ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE GAY BECAUSE I DON’T THINK YOU’RE GAY ENOUGH…”

HEY MICHAEL—“You’re too smart to be that fat.”

HEY MICHAEL—“WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE THE F_____ING ODDBALL OF THE FAMILY” (Signed Mom 1994)

HEY MICHAEL—“What do you want me to do to support you?  Buy you a dress?” (Signed Dad 1995)

HEY MICHAEL–“PEOPLE JUST AREN’T GOING TO ACCEPT YOU–YOU’RE JUST NOT AN OFF THE SHELF TYPE JEW…”

HEY MICHAEL—“WHY ARE ARABS BEING BROUGHT IN TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT ISLAM” (Concerned parent on my first day teaching in a Hebrew School high school program…note I am not Arab or Muslim…and neither are a negative.)

HEY MICHAEL—“You can’t be Black, gay and Jewish–America isn’t ready for you.”

HEY MICHAEL—–“WHY ARE YOU WITH THAT WHITE BOY?”

This is what also has to stop.

I come from three of the strongest peoples on earth–and I’ve heard variations on hate like you wouldn’t believe.  And its not just us–its the whole planet. It’s the mood of our country–we honestly believe we have to hate to be whole, to stand up, to be counted.

Don’t just be angry at homophobia that kills–be mad at white supremacy that kills–about homophobia in the Black community that isolates and destroys families and corrupts houses of worship into houses of hate–honor Black ministers and civil rights leaders and promote their profile of those who work towards bridging the gap and bringing us all together.  Be angry at racism in the gay community and stop telling me to get over it.  Be angry at gay misogyny and universal transphobia and work against anti-Jewish attitudes and beliefs and the silencing of Jewish diversity–because Jewish people of color exist and we don’t have to get your validation–be furious at homophobia in the Jewish community and racism in the Jewish community, cut that nonsense out that says Black people belong in a box and can’t be anything we want–cut that nonsense out that says gay is or can only be one thing and everything else is useless–cut that nonsense out that posits over privileges only one kind of gay person of a certain class and color and look and appearance.

You can throw in gender and sex, Latinx, physical ability, economic class, creed, nationality, language, ethnicity, religion, absence of religion, politics–and people will find a way.  STOP IT.

If you say love wins over all–then do it–mean it–live it.  Stop the lip service.  Stop being apolitical and apathetic, lazy–nope–stop making excuses for internalized hatred and outward expressions of chauvinism.

We have to pledge to work on ourselves–not just shouting down the neighbor whose voice we don’t like. We owe it to the many dead and the many wounded to be better to one another and to ourselves.  If we are truly all Orlando then our shoulders must be willing to bear the serious burdens of complexity and the willingness to give up our emotional attachment to ignorance.

I don’t have all the answers–but when this news begins to fade–I want you to have a take-away that you’ll never forget–and never forget to act on.  Love thy neigbor as thyself, and don’t forget to love thyself.  How we have survived our oppression is our greatest form of cultural capital–and the greatest gift we have to tell each other.

I don’t want this tragedy to ever happen again, to anyone.

Ever.

Love, Michael.
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Posted in Pop Culture and Pop Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 53 Comments

Michael Twitty Addresses Racial Inequality in the Southern Kitchen | MUNCHIES

https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/michael-twitty-addresses-racial-inequality-in-the-southern-kitchen?utm_source=munchiestwitterus

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Helen Hollyman, Editor of Vice’s very popular Munchies site sat down with me to have a conversation about Southern food and cultural politics. I discuss dialoguing with Sean Brock, the Charleston food press and my forthcoming book, The Cooking Gene.  I hope you enjoy!

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Editorial:

Michael Twitty Addresses Racial Inequality in the Southern Kitchen

Episode Title:
#17 Michael Twitty – Addressing Racial Inequality in the Southern Kitchen

Episode Description:
On the latest episode, I sit down with culinary historian Michael Twitty to discuss his new book, The Cooking Gene, and his open letter to chef Sean Brock, which addresses current racial inequalities in the Charleston food scene.

iTunes page:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/munchies-the-podcast/id1040667321?mt=2

Soundcloud:

Posted in Cultural Politics, Food and Slavery, Food Philosophy at Afroculinaria, Pop Culture and Pop Food, Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment