Much respect to those who feel that the recent NBC fried chicken Black History Month controversy
is legitimate, but I must say that perhaps we should dig deeper before going off the deep end. I am not one to say that television networks can't be racist and insensitive. I've stated on many occasions that Black History Month has been commercialized worse than Christmas, and that most of us don't commemorate the month in the way we probably should. The attack on NBC's fried chicken menu, though, was both over the top and a wee bit silly. Let me tell you why:1) The cook was black and only serving food that she likes:
I saw the video of the poor woman who chose to serve the fried chicken. She has been traumatized by the national publicity that her little decision has created. We should stop beating up on this poor lady and let her explain that her fried chicken is not an evil plot to undermine the world's quest for racial justice.
2) NBC didn't authorize the cook to put the menu up, so should they be held responsible?
The last I checked, the cook didn't check with the president of NBC to see if she could serve fried chicken that day. If that is the case, then why are we acting as though this was some kind of networkwide decision? Sure the network is responsible for what happens within its walls, but give me a break. 3) Is this the only thing that NBC is doing to commemorate Black History Month?
OK, if serving chicken and black eyed peas is the only way that NBC is celebrating Black History Month, then we would have a serious problem. But not only was this menu NOT part of their celebration (they had no idea that the cook was choosing to make this food), but the network has a long list of other activities that go far beyond fried chicken.
If we want to challenge networks for their systemic lack of diversity in key decision-making positions, I get it. If we want to hold them accountable for their perpetuation of black stereotypes, I get that too. But to kick someone in the butt because their black cook wants to serve fried chicken? That's just way too much. Let's chill out on that one. Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.