Guest Post by Liz Ross: Why I Protested Thug Kitchen

Since I gave a talk last week at Middlebury College on thug kitchen controversy, I thought this guest post by Liz Ross, on Hana Low’s page, would be helpful to read through.

6 thoughts on “Guest Post by Liz Ross: Why I Protested Thug Kitchen

  1. I don’t get this protest.

    Going by the above post (especially the second paragraph), the disagreement is based ONLY on personal opinion. Some people DO like their cookbooks. Why protest just because you (you, I mean in general anyone) don’t like their cookbooks. To each their own. Were there complaints BEFORE they identified themselves?

    Also, who cares what color they are? I know very little about them but I had assumed they were white all the time, because most vegans in America are white. Did they ever lie and say they were black? Had they been black then it would be OK for them to say “Thug” and use street slang, but being white it’s not alright?

    Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.

    Sorry, I just don’t understand all the negative hoopla about the authors and their book.

    1. Lorrie,

      Thanks for posting your comments.

      You wrote: “Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.”

      There are thousands — and I mean thousands- of Black and brown people who experience the word ‘thug’ differently, including myself– and that was after I spent a good 6 months on my dissertation chapter, researching about Trayvon Martin and making intersectional connections to the violence enacted upon him because he was demonized as a ‘thug’ who deserved preemptive strike; and this research came out of an entire canon of critical race studies that show how ‘thug’ is part of a long history of words with a socio-historical context that are strategically used as tools of white supremacist based violence against brown and black people. AS a social scientists focused on critical issues of race, feminism, and food, I’m interested in the fact that there are a significant number of Black and Brown people who have the exact same feelings that Liz does about Thug Kitchen…and that there are plenty of academic scholars who have written about the problem of using ‘thug’ as a code word for a scary black man.

      Yes, there are a lot of people who like the Thug Kitchen blog and cookbooks— I’m not disputing that… But, there are lot of people who also like to do and say things that really illicit horror and pain from us that are clearly speciesist, and when we vegans protest it we too are asked things like, “Who cares what people eat?” or “Who cares that that chef wrote a cookbook about how to eat veal and lamb?” I know these are not the same, but I know you have mentioned in the past that you won’t read certain books that have speciesist language in them that don’t seem to traumatize mostly everyone else. I totally understood where you were coming from and would have understood why you would protest a book (not that you did that, but if you wanted to) because of that language used, in order to make people aware of the suffering the underlies such privileged use of speciesist language/behaviors.

      It’s not that they are making a big deal about nothing, in my opinion. The book, the author’s white racialized consciousness around their use of thug (and not knowing why some people find it upsetting), etc simply reveal a more interesting microcosm about how race is lived in the USA for MOST white people; it says a lot that over 75% of white people in the USA only have white friends in their close friends network/developed intimate relationships with. I don’t think the authors are ‘bad’ people at all; as a matter of fact, I don’t even think that that is the point of this controversy. But, after nearly month of this and the mere fact that they can’t even say something like the following, is a little confusing for a lot of us who support Liz’s stance—> [What Breeze would like them to say]—> “You know, not everyone experiences the word thug the same. However, over the past few weeks, I realized that my own whiteness has pretty much protected me from the racialized history of ‘thug’— I would never be Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis because my whiteness protects me. It has protected me so much that for the past month, I simply could not understand how thug could also be traumatizing for many– especially for those in Ferguson who are currently there to symbolize that Black and brown people are sick of being born into this White settler nation in which they are immediately racialized as a ‘thug’. I had know idea that I could quite possibly be promoting blackface at a deeply unconscious level– I didn’t even know what it was or that it could manifest different ways PAST literally painting a white person’s face with black paint…Even though we put a lot of effort into making this blog and cookbook fun for everyone, these past few weeks have allowed me to realize that there continues to be a lot of physical and emotional pain experienced by Brown and Black people in the USA, due to structural and systemic racism that I never really understood was still a problem because, like I said before, my whiteness protected me from it. Maybe I can start looking at how I can merge vegan activism with being a white ally anti-racist activist for my next book project. ” That type of response is called “cultural humility”, and the author discusses this in her book Pondering Privilege.

      Just my two cents.

      Thanks for discussing 😉

      1. You’re good at what you do and I like most of your work but do you realize the context of “G’s Up and Ho’s down”?

        I could write nearly word for word the same response about your proposed title. What I find revolting is how you are writing about black masculinity yet your title is a play on black men abusing black women…did you do this on purpose? Are you insinuating an unstated opinion?

        As a black man who came from the same kind of socio-cultural-economic class as those so directly and grossly affected by the term “thug” or phrases like “G’s up and ho’s down”, I know it is far more accepting for a brown skinned person to use such historically degrading terms. It is accepted and even encouraged despite it having a terrible consequence on black and brown skinned people in this country.

        I can’t imagine you would use such a title without being sensitive to the negative stereotyping of the black and brown communities, particularly towards black men like myself. Gangsters having the privilege of keeping their heads up and prostitutes being abused to keeping their head’s down is what you’ve twisted your title from.

        So, to inform you, there is at least one documentary titled “G’s up, Ho’s down” and dozens of songs if you need to do a little research to understand the misandry, the mysongy, the genderism, the racism, the hate, the criminality involved and more than that which your title convey’s towards black and brown people.

        As far as songs go, I have listened to Gz Up Hoes Down by DJ Cavem and I feel the same about that title despite the song’s context. BTW, I am not at a loss for understanding the subtlety of the evolution of word and phrase usage but sometimes the attempts are offensive.

        Your old title was far better and not offensive.

        1. Frank, I need you to explain more why my use of DJ Cavems song for my book title is offensive when it refers to organic growers and gardening ho. Was this completely unclear when I lectured about this in Middlebury last month? Please let me know more. I am a little confused since you mentioned you listened to Cavem’s song and see him gardening and talking about ‘g life’ as gardening and growing healthy food.


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