I've noticed a subtle example of ingrained socialized racism while watching this past Sunday's episode of Jon Taffer's "Bar Rescue".
While I was cooking dinner, listening to the show in the background, I
heard the narrator begin to introduce the chef Jon was bringing in to
help the failing bar of the week. The moment the narrator described the
chef's style of cooking as "soulful" I knew without even having to look
at the screen the chef was black. Why?
Because on Bar Rescue whenever
Jon brings in a chef who happens to be black, the narrator describes
their cooking as soulful, as in "soul food". When the chef is white, the
buzzword of choice is "elevated". Latino chefs always have food with a
"zesty kick". And never ever does the narrator mix it up.
This to me shows a very mild and subtle example of ingrained racism.
Assuming the Narrator is simply reading copy in front of him in the
recording booth, whomever writes that copy writes it with some
preconceived racist notions so subtle I doubt they even notice they're
doing it. Certain descriptors that have over time somehow become tied to
Is it necessarily inaccurate that soul food is
most often cooked by black cooks, or that Latino cooking is
traditionally more spicy? No. Those are the sorts of stereotypes that
exist because they are often actually accurate. Where it truly slips
into racism though, however unintended it may be, is that the only
ethnicity that ever has their cooking described as "elevated" are the
white chefs. THAT'S where the subconscious stench of culturally
ingrained racism begins to seep in.
Because this kind of racism
is so ingrained, so sewn in to the social consciousness, that it just
seems perfectly normal to describe the white chefs as cooking the
"elevated" dishes, and almost no one ever even notices. We all just kind
of shrug it off. It rarely registers with most people, regardless of
their race, that what they're hearing is kinda broken and problematic,
because we've all been subtly conditioned to see this kind of thing as
simply normal. And it's damned hard to unsee it. I've been watching Bar
Rescue for all 6 seasons, and only JUST realized this.
And that's why racism ends up being so difficult to fight, to beat, to eradicate.
Anyone can see the problem when a neo-nazi shouts "ni**er" on a street
corner. Those are the big blunt examples. We all know that's wrong. But
we can't succeed in fighting the big loud examples if we can't get
ourselves to see the subtle tiny ones. Because it's the subtle tiny ones
we all just blindly accept that give the bigger ones the room to keep
festering until they thrive.