I’m not even linking to the story because it’s that stupid. I can’t be bothered.

Hobby Lobby, which I would never patronize because of their stance on birth control, etc. sells decorative cotton. Once upon a time, so did I. Big deal. It’s not racist to sell cotton. Don’t make me clap it out. And the Nashville situation, nope, miss me with the outrage.

It’s a plant with a tortured history but it’s still beautiful dried and has been used for generations to decorate in the South during and after the autumn harvest.

When I grew and sold cotton it was exclusively bought by African Americans. I never once heard anyone chastise me for selling a racist product. Why? Because it’s one person’s uninformed opinion is getting racial flashpoint attention while the orchestrated plan to take away our voting rights, health care, civil liberties and freedom of speech are on the verge of success, but some y’all wanna gripe about decorative cotton.

We were growing and picking and spinning and weaving cotton long before our Ancestors ever heard of a white man. It’s a plant with African, American and Asian origins. I write about picking it in my book, The Cooking Gene, where I talk about our unique relationship to this plant and what it meant to our people’s history and cultural experience. Many people have no relationship to the material culture of our collective past. This harms us far more than some dead cellulose on a branch.

Symbolics over substance. Done. It’s over. Systemic racism is a lot harder to deal with but symbolic racism feels good when we beat it back. But the heads grow back like a hydra. It’s useless. And some of it isn’t racism, just perception. 

Statues falling while systems remain is not enough.

Racism is an evolving, invisible pathology, an immortal disease, symbolics come and go.

Sessions, Kobuch, Miller, Bannon and the like are far more dangerous than a dead branch with lint on it. 

That sugar on every table in virtually every restaurant in America has killed more Black people than cotton. From being the crop that sparked the slave trade to killing many of its workers within 7 years to diabetes today, sugar is racist AF compared to cotton. Sugar represents five centuries of inequality, but sugar and grits, right?

I don’t ever want to have to write anything that remotely sounds like I support Hobby Lobby in any matter ever again. And by the way, until you’ve done this for 16 hours…

Keep your opinions to yourself.

By the way there are Black companies trying to keep Black farmers on ancestral land like http://www.blackcotton.us/ so check them out. Buy some cotton decorations from them. 


  1. Bravo!! Well said especially regarding the part referring to sugar….which continues to kill and kill….


  2. Beautiful drawing or painting… I could buy it,
    If I wasn’t paying for college kids tuition!
    Love it!


  3. No, cotton isn’t inherently racist. I am of mixed ancestry, and there are records of my white ancestors in the late 1800s and early 1900s hiring themselves out to work in the cotton fields. (I just bought your book and look forward to reading it.)


  4. Brooks Moses

    Thanks, Michael, for writing this. One of my few clear memories from my childhood is my Papa stopping the car along a road in rural North Carolina one autumn (we were driving down to visit my grandparents) and getting out to pick a twig of cotton for me and my brother, so that we could see what it actually looked like on the plant.
    I don’t know which of my genealogical ancestors picked cotton — my Mama’s family had a small tobacco farm, and my Papa’s father was the town barber — but I don’t doubt that some of them did. And certainly my cultural ancestors did.
    I’m thinking maybe I should go buy some to decorate the house this fall, just to remember, and honor.


  5. Right on!


  6. Mr. Twitty your words are so true. People are routinely led to acts that are shameful quickly recognized. As good activists we act against these things in many ways and these efforts can be successful. Far more scary are the things planned and executed out of sight that really take us down. Thank you for your writing and work to better understand history through food.


  7. My first thought reading this actually was, what about sugar then? People always need something to spout off on. Guess it makes them feel righteous without too much thinking.


  8. I have been considering the broader picture which is the unfortunate patronization by the media of those who would stir conflict and division by any means, even if the logic is ridiculously flawed and psychotic. Thank you for standing up against this and for contributing sanity and common sense to the dialogue, Mr. Twitty.


  9. Read one post, and I love you to pieces.


  10. This is the most racist shit ever and it’s probably why you want people to keep comments to themselves. White people dont get to decide what’s racists. Your ancestors weren’t working fields for free and being beat. Stop with articles like this having people thinking you know anything about being black in America.


  11. I take that back. This shit was written by a black man. Talk about systematic oppression. This is sad that you would write some shit like this. I’m just amazed at how deep white supremacy runs.


  12. Thank you for this article. I actually found it when I was looking for a response to a friend posting a local mommy blog about why you shouldn’t take photos in cotton fields. I’m from Memphis – cotton is more a part of the historical fabric (and current economy as well) of this city than probably any other in the country. And it certainly has bad historical memories, but it also has personal connections for countless mid-southerners – white, black, asian, etc. I am glad to have the link to purchase products from actual farmers – will always do that over Hobby Lobby or Michaels.


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