“Eating the Other”: bell hooks on ethnicity as spice

Scenes of Eating

Some time ago, Sociological Images posted this horrifyingly perfect example of how “postracial” discourse interprets racial diversity:

spicediversity

As blog editor Lisa Wade wryly comments, “Just a teaspoon or less of diversity, please.” Misguided as it is, this ad offers a strikingly on-the-nose visual representation of the racism in postracial discourse: the heaping helping of whiteness is something basic (or Basic?) like sugar or salt, while the nonwhite ingredients are there to provide a little color and a little spice (but not too much). As we’ve seen elsewhere, such as in the colloquial use of “vanilla” to connote blandness and whiteness, this kind of racial differentiation operates under the pretense of supporting inclusivity or complimenting individuals–white is boring, anything else is spice or flavor–while it in fact reinforces whiteness as normative and default, with anything else falling into categories of exotic or other. Food frequently provides the figurative vehicle for this sort of thing: in this really excellent guide at Writing With…

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