Racism is a word a lot people want to avoid or deny. Most racism is insidious and just kind up creeps up and pops into place where you hardly imagine. As I walk in a Black woman’s shoes, my perceptions of incidents are my own and not always shared by my friends of other races. It could be for various reasons, they don’t believe it , or don’t want to believe it.
For example, a few years ago I was at a dinner party consisting of a crowd of those in the medical profession, scholars and attorneys. A normal crowd for me and one in which I grew up in. Anyway I was having a discussion with a so called liberal woman ( the type who find you find in Evanston or Hyde Park near the universities) as she grilled me with the usual questions:
- How I knew the couple? (What you went to school with them?)
- Where my accent came from (because I don’t have one.)
- Who my people where (smile)
- Where I work, what do I do
…and a whole bunch more of the kind of questions you get when a so called liberal can’t figure you out because you don’t fit their perceived stereotypes.We were talking about Opera ,and she assumed my association with it was that I was a singer, not a patron of the arts or leader of a junior board. At the end of our conversation she said…brace yourself… “You’ll go far Blackbird”. I was shocked and appalled because she just threw it in like a Molotov Cocktail in a genteel club. Out of no where and totally from left field. The polite private school, educated in Europe woman,I am didn’t go off on the woman but excused myself and immediately told my host and friends, who did not believe me and were dismissive. One even said she was trying to make a compliment.That incident was jarring and revealed a lot to me about my so called friends at the time and society. See I grew up sheltered in a predominantly white society and my Mommy always warned me, but I was to naive to see some things. Nor did I want to.Because who wants to actively search for the ugly aspects of life?
So it doesn’t surprise me, yet I’m still surprised ,that the Duncan Hines Incident barely made a ripple on the internet. I have seen more outrage and commotion over a top bloggers mistreatment or slight, a medieval pie recipe being plagiarized with snark retorts, a poor lunch served at a major conference, or a shortage of canned pumpkin in the Fall. When my journalist friend sent me the link to this insulting video on Twitter, I was appalled. I forwarded it to others and posted it to my fan page. Barely a murmur. The only ones indignant where my friends Bren, Chrystal, and my journalist friend who showed me. The one thing we all have in common besides writing, love for food, is that we are educated influential Black women.
A hot shot Chicago ( don’t get me started on Chicago’s racial divides) director named Josh Binder, no stranger to controversial ads ,conceived this Black face parody for Duncan Hines of Hip Hop cupcakes dancing to what is most definitely NOT Hip Hop music. Harmless, fun with baking ?An ode to modern culture? I think not. The derogatory signs are blaring.
Why bring Hip Hop into the equation? There is nothing Hip Hop about it.
Can’t chocolate glaze be shown another way?
Why not show the lone Vanilla cupcake dancing too?
Why is the lone vanilla cupcake singing off key?What it’s not Hip Hop enough?
Why are the eyes and lips pronounced like the most stereotypical derogatory offensive images of Blacks that have plagued us since slavery?
As someone in sales management , I ask what marketing and leadership teams teams allowed this minstrel show to pass through the endless meetings and planning stages? Where there no self respecting African Americans or other minorities on the Duncan Hines or advertising teams or were they just to intimidated to speak up? Duncan Hines has pulled the Amazing Glazes Video from You Tube but you can still see it on various sites. Finally their management saw Amazing Glazes Chocolate Cupcakes going Hip Hop wasn’t so wise .They realized African Americans have huge buying power and don’t want a negative fiscal impact, especially with the peak holiday baking . A few sites such as Huffington Post and others who have the clip ,carry comments and polls showing most people don’t feel the ad was racist. This country is so politically and racially divided that some of the comments I saw left a nasty after taste in my mouth.
What do you think? In my opinion Duncan Hines and Pinnacle Foods can take it’s minstrel show and Kiss My Brownie. Ironically Pinnacle Foods Group also owns Aunt Jemima , who has been transformed from the most demeaning do ragged Mammy type image, into a modern day homemaker with relaxed hair.No matter how you dress her, the hurtful insensitivity still lingers.
So that’s my two cents. I have a lot of things to post about right now that are more in keeping with the Holiday Spirit, but I felt compelled to write this. Agree or disagree, but this is how I see it as a Black woman. It’s shameful and sad because while I have far evolved in my baking from the box mixes, I remember learning how to bake with Duncan Hines products.Please check out my other fellow Brown Bloggers opinion on this matter. We feel as bloggers of color we needed to say something, even if the rest of the food blogging community chooses to ignore or dismiss it as harmless cupcake fun.