In this supposed post-racial society, it seems certain foods still carry racial significance and the sting of degrading stereotypes. Watermelon is one of them. Going back to slavery days, African-Americans were depicted as ignorant, small-minded people who are predisposed to liking the fruit.

Fried chicken is another. Black people are seen as having an inordinate fondness for the food, dating back to restaurants like Sambo’s that used finger-licking, chicken-loving black caricatures as their mascots. In reality, black people account for a small portion of the watermelon-buying American public and people of various races and ethnicities enjoy fried chicken. But that reality fails to strip these stereotypes of their potential to offend, degrade and upset.

Tiger Woods became the butt of a racially-tinged fried chicken joke recently when Sergio Garcia, a professional golfer from Spain, said on record that he would invite Tiger Woods to his house and serve him fried chicken. Recognizing how very weighted that food association is, Woods called Garcia’s remark “wrong, hurtful, and clearly inappropriate” on Twitter:

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Woods sees his comments as racist in nature and I do also. What other reasoning, besides race, would Garcia have to like Tiger Woods to fried chicken?

The incident sparked a debate on Twitter about foods that were historically imbued with racial significance.

If our society is truly post-racial, do the associations between black people and watermelon or fried chicken no longer hold any weight? Should we be offended when non-black people associate us with these foods or should we assume their comments have no deeper, race-related meaning? What are your thoughts, Clutchettes?

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