Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fewer words than usual Wednesday

This is a picture that I took at my local grocery store. I'm thinking it might be pretty good, because Indian food seems like the type of cuisine that would lend itself well to freezing.

But this blog isn't about frozen food, it's about race and inequality!

The reason I took this picture is because of the name of the dinner, Ethnic Gourmet. Another thing that annoys me is when people/companies refer to anything that does not have to do with white people as "ethnic." Ethnic art, ethnic people, the ethnic hair care section at the store. The ethnic hair care section usually consists of products that are marketed exclusively to black people.

My first thought was that they could call it the black hair care section, but I think we all know the confusion that would probably arise from that. They could also call it the curly/kinky hair section, but I'm, pretty sure a lot of black people would have a problem with having their hair being referred to as kinky. But I bet there are a lot of people who are white that have curly/kinky hair that could benefit from the use of some of the products in that section. My curly-haired white friends, check it out the next time you're at your local big box.

Ok, I'm getting off on a little tangent. The reason the common use of the term ethnic bothers me is because absolutely everyone in the world has an ethnicity. Now, I could go around and find a definition of ethnicity on the internet, but I really don't feel like it. If you are not familiar with what it means, I could describe it as a subset of the concept of race, that takes into account culture and geographic location. Like with race you have white and black , and ethnicity you have African-American and European-American.

So if there were two black people and one was from Kenya and one was from Ohio, they would be the same race, but not the same ethnicity. Likewise, if you had two white people, one from Canada and one from the U.S.--they would not be the same ethnicity. I could get a lot more convoluted and complicated than that, but it's all just one big social construct (i.e. completely made up ) anyway, so I am not going to bother.

When we get into this habit of describing people of color/things associated with people of color as 'ethnic,' but don't do the same for white people, it just serves to reinforce the idea that white people are "normal" and anyone else is "not normal." Like I said in one of my earliest posts, it's like white people are the sun, and people of color are the planets orbiting around the sun. Instead of recognition of the fact that we all have ethnicities; we are all just planets orbiting around something bigger and more powerful than ourselves.

I look forward to the day that green bean casserole is considered fine ethnic cuisine.

Comments? Leave them for me.


  1. This might be my favorite post so far. I have a hard time referring to my daughter, or any other dark skinned person for that matter, as African American because, 1)I don't know that her heritage is African, and 2) nobody refers to me as Welsh American. I'm white or caucasian. Therefore my daughter is black!


  2. I'm terrible at stuff like this but I'm going to try my best......I think that those adjectives are used because they refer to something that isn't the norm. If you walk into a room with 100 people all wearing suits and one is wearing a yellow shirt, you will say "the guy in the yellow shirt"

    So I think what this food manufacturer is trying to do is call this ethnic because around here.......that is what isn't the norm. (Now, I'm not saying the food isn't NORMAL) but it's the thing that's different in the frozen food aisle next to the fried chicken that I've been familiar with since I could eat.

    Do I even make any sense?

  3. Anonymous9:23 PM

    I think Rebecca has a good point about food and you have a good point about people.

  4. I'm 100% with you on this "ethnic" thing!