More Food Folklore
Who dat say chicken in dis crowd / words by Paul Laurence Dunbar ; music by Will. Marion. ([c1898]) NYPL Digital Gallery.
In “Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, And Power” Psyche A. Williams-Forson discusses the multiple roles of chicken in the lives of African-Americans–as a source of food and a source of income–and the negative imagery associated with chicken, from chicken thieving to cock fighting.
African women, as Frederick Douglass Opie (2011) reminds us, played “a seminal role of in colonial America as entrepreneurs.” “African women came from a tradition in which they controlled local markets and the sale of produce, grains, and herbs as well as prepared foods.”
According to Williams-Forson, European slave traders took Africans “from certain regions according to their specific knowledge, …” [and skills]. “They were taken to Brazil and the Caribbean to build the sugar industry, to the Carolinas for rice cultivation, and to the Chesapeake colonies for harvesting tobacco, among other crops, cotton being the eventual mainstay of United States economic export.”
Our love/hate relationship with chicken finds expression in folktales, song and dance, and in the stereotypical images of American popular culture.
“Who Dat Say Chicken in Dis Crowd” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Do Your Food Products Have Racist Roots? by Nadra Kareem Nittle, About.com Guide.
For more Food Folklore see my blog post Food Folklore…
For more on food culture and politics see Food for Thought…
- Mary J. Blige, Fried Chicken, NWA and Me (allerinharper.com)
- Burger King chickens out on Mary J. Blige – PostPartisan – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Race, Chicken, and Mary J. Blige (slog.thestranger.com)