[Content Notice for Eating Disorders]
When I say that racism is everywhere, I can almost feel the response welling up in naysayers. Racism enablers and denialists seem to think that those of us who point out racism are Oprah, handing out a racism to everyone and everything. “You get a racism! And you get a racism! And you get a racism! Everybody gets a racism!”
Calling out racism is more along the lines of the image. We’re not hunting for racism any more than we are hunting for sexism. Instead, we’re seeing it where you might not realize it exists.
Like, for example, in articles about what not to order on a first date.
It was an xoJane article about shamelessly eating in front of a romantic partner that brought my attention to the fact that is such a thing as an article about what not to order on a first date. While some of the Google search results yield republishings, there are at least 2 dozen discrete pieces on the matter within the first 4 pages of the search results.
That’s a lot of words dedicated to the idea that there is food that you can’t eat when going for that initial wooing.
I thought it might be enjoyable in a silly way to aggregate the lists and have fun with them somehow as I did back in February with lists of fashion that all men allegedly hate. It stopped being fun when nearly every single piece included something that was xenophobic, if not downright racist.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a good first impression. I personally avoid food that involves a lot of knife-and-fork work on first dates because I feel very clumsy wielding them. Unless you are up for that sort of adventure, anything to which you are unaccustomed is generally a bad choice for an anxiety-inducing first date. Messy foods are also not the best choice, certainly.
The problem is with the assumption that everyone is familiar with the same things — and that non-white things are automatically more unfamiliar and/or messy to everyone than “white” things.
Some selected gems.
[Ordering] Chicken Vindaloo [says] I am not interested in you, because I don’t care that I’ll spend the night on the toilet instead of on top of you. [how classy, two different “Indian food gives you diarrhea” jokes in one article]
While corn on the cob is something to be avoided for the aforementioned reasons, it’s even worse when you indulge in elote – the Mexican-style cob that’s slathered in mayo, rolled in cheese and covered with chili powder. A mere taste will result in a face fiesta from nose to chin. [emphasis mine]
Fermented foods: Kimchi and fermented tofu and foods of that ilk are really acquired tastes … and smells. This is third-date material. Same goes for anything truly weird, like duck tongues — well any sort of tongue — offal, organs, etc.
First of all, you are using chopsticks, which can be awkward to use unless you are very familiar with them. [only people unfamiliar with them date?]
The most xenophobia in a single article comes via eHarmony, which apparently taps into Fox News for guest writers (all emphasis is mine).
House Special Sushi Roll
News flash: Using foreign utensils to shove gigantic portions of raw fish into your mouth can, and likely will, cause a series of silent, very awkward first date moments.
Spicy Chicken Curry
Let’s save the spice and sweat for the bedroom, shall we? Chicken curry doesn’t work in anyone’s favor on a date — think Ben Stiller in “Along Came Polly” and you’ll understand why.
Burritos and Tacos
Your date doesn’t want to see a Mexican mess oozing out of your mouth and into your lap, so avoid the trip to Acapulco and opt for something more traditional.
The common thread through all this is the assumption that the people seeking dating advice are not Other in any way: unfamiliar with chopsticks, unaccustomed to spicy food, unable to navigate a taco or a burrito, comfortably nodding along with the assertion that all Indian cuisine causes explosive diarrhea.
Another day in the life of a person of color: I get Othered when I innocently quest for cheap lulz from dating articles.