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New York University
Food Studies
FOOD-UE 1051
Jennifer Berg

Food and Identity: Food & Race March 26th, 2013 Covered Reading(s): “More than Just the „Big Piece of Chicken‟” Psyche Williams- Forson Note: Other readings related to race: Allison, Anne, "Japanese Mothers and Obentos: The Lunch Box as Ideological State Apparatus”, Levenstein, Harvey, “The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-1930”, Wade-Gayles, Gloria, “‟Laying on Hands‟ Through Cooking” I. Race vs Ethnicity  Race is a predominantly American discourse born out of the homogeneity of our society. It is influenced by white guilt about slavery and the general discrimination of blacks and other minorities. Therefore people are uncomfortable talking about it: sensitive topic. o Esoteric: Being part of a race can only be truly experienced by members of that race. It isn‟t something that can be chosen or changed, must experience being whatever race you are born as.  Ethnicity is a more open, global discourse that is heightened in cosmopolitan places. It is more of a social/cultural construct; how one identifies with a group of people and culture. Therefore it is not considered as offending and tied with historical events as race is. o Exoteric: Ethnicity, being a social/cultural construct, is malleable to an extent and variable based on the person who decides what ethnicity he/she is, and the people who view him/her. Forces such as food, language, music, traditions, holidays, religion, and family influence a person‟s affiliation.  Ex: A person born in Germany with Bangladeshi parents. He/she is German by nationality and Asian or Brown by race. However, by ethnicity he/she may be either Bangladeshi or German depending on personal view. Social forces such as German friends and preference for German culture may influence this person to feel German by ethnicity.  Nationality is generally considered the country of origin/birth.  People in the British West Indies are 98% Black, but because they‟re society is racially homogeneous, there is no need to define oneself by race or color. Rather, they probably identify themselves by island/area of origin and family instead. Outsiders may label them as black or African-American (even though they may not be from Africa) in order to define, generalize, and distinguish from the mainstream.  In Brazil there are 37 kinds/gradations of race but they are not symbolic or emotionally-charged as they are in the U.S.  Ultimately, in the U.S. it is White vs Other. There is a legacy/burden of slavery and discrimination. Whiteness is an earned concept, a degree of White, which has associations with power, wealth, prestige, and mainstream culture.
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