ACTUALLY, YES, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RACE by Madison Johnson

especially this episode of food network’s chopped / obviously / I am rooting for

the token / the black woman / the black dude from Baltimore / the tiny brown

vegan woman even tho all her food look kinda nasty / over all of these white boys

always / today I am shouting on my sofa for Chef Evelyn / because Chef Evelyn

says soul food / and she don’t mean what white people search for on yelp / or in

my scalp / or in what used to be jackie n’em old neighborhood/ she means the

food of her soul / she means this is how my grandmamma ate / and many a

grandmamma before her / in the background, some white guy says sriracha and

it sounds like a hate crime / the white guys are always saying sriracha / always

making reductions / are always sure that they’ll win / and I mean sure / everyone

says it / but they actually mean it / always look at their dish on the chopping

block like they’re waiting for it to hocus pocus into someone else’s / like they’re

used to their failures hocus pocusing into someone else’s / or someone else / like

they want to leap over the judge’s table and choke someone out / and sometimes

they do / win / but today / everyone knows Chef Evelyn’s English muffin burger

was bomb / even Chef Eli / who has a pony tail and a surprised shrug and says / I

guess Evelyn is not just some short twenty-four-year old / girl / you can write

off / and he’s right / and she beats him / and of course it’s about this / you can

learn so much about race in a half hour cooking show / like how the judges tell

Evelyn her ice cream isn’t sweet enough and she says sorry / like how the judges

tell Eli his dessert was straight garbage and he says well you can’t expect me to

make a dessert with those ingredients anyway / like how the white boy will

always blame the test / like how the black girl will always cook herself down into

an apology / like how the white boy is never sorry for anything / like how the

other day I burned my arm getting mac n’ cheese out of the oven and it was the

closest I have ever felt to black woman / and I will always root for the brown chef

/ and I will never buy the white sob story / because the brown chef don’t need sob

story / because what is the diasporic kitchen if not one bellowing sob / because

the brown chef’s sob story is the white chef / is the white man’s fork / always in

their curry / always breaking down their front door / always scraping the bottom

of the plate / asking for more

 

Madison Johnson is poet, essayist, and college student originally from Columbus,Georgia. Madison is a Pink Door Fellow and a Youth Speaks Future Corps Fellow and their work has been published in The Harvard Crimson and Harvard Renegade. Madison is a Pisces and is probably currently making baked mac n’ cheese and thinking about liberation.

 

 

 

 

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