Let’s begin by defining what a stereotype actually is. When all else and the urbundictionary.com gets a little racist, turn to the worlds premier authority on the english language, yep the Oxford Dictionary.
Stereotype according the Oxford English Dictionary is
A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
Ok, that’s the definition we want for this topic, I mean that is of course you are an artist and thing a stereotype is “a relief printing plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.”
Don’t know what that is….don’t care.
Now for all the international folks out there who just happen to click on this article by mistake, African American I will have you know did not have such a pleasant time in North America. Their historical progression includes oppressive slavery to discriminated minority group to almost-not-discriminated-cool-people-who-do-cool-stuff-on-tv-and-football-games in modern America. Yes THAT was a stereotype (there are more African American Professional doctors than professional athletes in the US).
Now let’s cut to the chase. I am going to examine two popularly held beliefs concerning African Americans. One, they would kill for fresh watermelon (hell I’d kill for fresh watermelon) and two they love fried chicken like some sinfully good treat. I’m being serious when I ask the question, are these claims oversimplified or are they actually true? Now I’m using a different yardstick to measure truthfulness about these claims. If 99% of all watermelon and fried chicken were being consumed by African Americans in some obscure year in history, that doesn’t count. I mean, almost all of America cut meat consumption drastically during the great depression (they didn’t actually “choose” to, they were starving you see) does that mean American’s don’t eat meat? No.
Rummaging through a few articles and statistical figures online, I found the answers to my questions. The first concerning watermelon proved to be true but only by a very slight margin. I got the figures from another blog right here on wordpress. You can see the figures below and I’m not sure they would have had a drastic change 17 years later (I mean unless Doctor Oz started saying Watermelon was bad for you or something).
Here is the amount of watermelon the average American ate in 1996:
5.9 kg: white
6.0 kg: black
8.1 kg: Hispanic
19.5 kg: other
As you can see, blacks consumed as average of 6.0 kg watermelon vs 5.9 kg to whites. The difference is barely significant (1 or 2%). For a stereotype to be true, well…it has to be true. In this case, I would say NO, black people would not kill for watermelon (though Hispanics would). A difference of 1% is insignificant especially if these statistics had an error margin (which I am sure they did). David Pilgrim of the Jim Crow Museum also had this to say in a 2008 response to a similar question:
“Most Americans would probably be surprised to learn that African Americans are underrepresented as watermelon eaters. Blacks represent about 13 percent of the United States population yet only account for 11 percent of the watermelon consumption”.
There you have it folks, myth #1 busted.
Let’s move onto the second question and admittedly, this one was a little harder. While the watermelon stereotype arose during the Jim crow era to depict the simplicity and poverty of African Americans, (Watermelon was a relatively cheap treat), the fried chicken stereotype I would have to argue bloomed in the modern era. I’m not saying this myth wasn’t present during Jim Crow, I’m just saying it is the most popular stereotype used today. Well how true is it? Sadly, there was no way of searching for “Fried Chicken consumption by race in the United States” on Google because obviously whoever wrote that research paper is racist or just curious. So I turned to average poultry and meat consumption statistics. You can see the problem with this. Consuming poultry does not necessarily mean consuming fried chicken, but either way I think poultry in general can provide us with a rough estimate.
The most recent statistics I could gather was from as early as 2012. And here they are, average meat consumption by race in the United States in 2012. (Source: http://www.countinganimals.com/meat-consumption-patterns-by-race-and-gender/ )
Meat Consumption by race (in retail pounds per person per year)
There you have it folks, blacks consume almost 27 retail pounds greater than whites in a year. That is a LOT of chicken. I’m not saying that there are social and economic reasons why this is the case. For one, chicken is cheap (which is why my family is big into it) and to be fair, there isn’t a single person on this planet who can wrinkle their nose at fried chicken. As far as I’m concerned, it is the best fast food there is. But keep in mind however, I could be wrong. The statistics above do not tell me any information about fried chicken consumption, just chicken in general.
If we did a statistical analysis of food consumption
by families and individuals below the poverty line,
I can assure you poultry would
have the highest numbers.
Now I will be fair and point out the other statistics from the same source. White consume the largest volume of fats and oils and dairy in the United States. This is a stereotype in the making. If I said the average white person in the US is fat, I would be accurate as far as statistics are concerned. This is why we should keep our mouths shut when it comes to criticizing or making fun of a particular race. Do blacks love fried chicken? YES. So what? If we did a statistical analysis of food consumption by families and individuals below the poverty line, I can assure you poultry would have the highest numbers. Why? Cheap food. And unfortunately, a large majority of African Americans are below the poverty line (35% compared to 13% for whites). I don’t think that is a laughing matter.
I love fried chicken, my friend Johnny likes fried chicken, my friend Steve would carve his heart out for a KFC bucket. Does it matter?
I hope I’ve proven racial stereotypes are quite stupid and far from being an accurate representation of a race or ethnicity. Various social and economic factors define what people eat and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because food is food and a majority of the world would kill for any time of food like
a black man would kill for watermelon. I mean… a Hispanic would kill for watermelon.