“Eating While Black: How I Navigate Watermelon, Fried Chicken, and Frozen Yogurt” [FFT]
Aug 4th, 2011 by Dan

Oh, post-racial America…It’s almost silly to think we’re even there, isn’t it?

Being accepted as a member of white suburbia comes with a complex set of challenges that extends down to my daily diet. Because they have coded me as “not that black,” the white people in my life are comfortable airing their deepest insights into black people, and often, those little observations concern food. A boyfriend once told me: “I’m not trying to be racist. I’m just saying that on campus, there was a Subway and a KFC right next to each other. There were never black people at the Subway and there were always black people at the KFC. I’m not saying the stereotype is bad, I’m just saying maybe there’s something to it. I’m just saying.”

And because of what he was “just saying,” I’m hyperaware of what I’m ordering if it’s remotely black-people related. I love me a good crispy chicken wrap, but sometimes just can’t bring myself to order it, lest someone tacitly think, “of course.” If I get the urge to order breaded chicken while I’m out, I try to dress it up a bit—Cordon Bleu (pronounced with the appropriate accent, natch) usually does the trick. If it’s a catered affair and fried chicken is the only choice, I sometimes wonder if I should mention aloud that I’m really in the mood for halibut and am disappointed at the presentation of the poultry, or just lie and say I’m vegetarian.

-Aydrea Walden. “Eating While Black: How I Navigate Watermelon, Fried Chicken, and Frozen Yogurt

It’s tough for me to really have a stance on this. The problem is that I don’t really look all that minority. Rarely do I have people know or guess that I’m anything but a typical white American unless I happen to be in Miami. As unsavory as it reads, I pass for white. Much like Ms. Walden, I “act white” so much so that my ex-girlfriend likes to tell me, “Dan, you’re not really Hispanic, you know that?” She’s wrong, of course, it’s as much a part of my identity as anything else, only, unlike Ms. Walden, it’s not obvious. I don’t pick up a taco and wonder what people think of me because I’m fairly certain that most people have no clue what my ethnicity is.

Still, the question of how to act and how to navigate this world does get really confusing. I had a man at a supermarket tell me once that the Spanish option on the card reader was insulting. “It’s America, right? Learn English!” I looked at him like he was from Mars. Couldn’t he tell that I would be offended by this? Shouldn’t he know that I’m in favor of Spanish being one of the official languages of the US (like in Quebec, but not with French)?

I can definitely sympathize with worrying about proliferating stereotypes. I dress, speak, and act in a very specific way to not appear stereotypically Hispanic. I avoid certain facial hair styles, I avoid wearing large jewelry, I avoid specific cologne scents all in the service of not enforcing Latino stereotypes.

On the flip side I find myself torn by wanting to embrace my identity. To not want to hide behind my disguise. My parents specifically taught my brothers and I English first to avoid giving us accents. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind having one if it meant I could speak Spanish better. I love listening to Spanish music and I will put it on anywhere. The lack of good Latin food in DC is probably my biggest complaint about the area.

I sometimes wonder what my cousins think of my brothers and me, if they even think about us at all. Are we, to borrow a Black term, Tom-ing it up? Are we, to them, not really culturally similar? I want to be both things. I want to be judged as a man without ethnicity, but I also want to be a part of my parents heritage. They laugh at us when we try to embrace their culture too much, but that just leaves me lost and confused. I worry about potential children I might have. How will I teach them how to embrace their Hispanic selves without further diluting their culture?

Check out that article in the quote, if you haven’t. It’s pretty good.

Game Overview/Food For Thought: Odds and Ends
Oct 21st, 2008 by Dan

I tell ya, it’s been a good long while since I’ve had to write a post that’s not really about baseball and it’s got me rather at a loss of what to do. Instead of focusing on one topic today, instead let’s look at a variety of things going on that I care about:

Peter Molyneux has got a problem. You see, he’s one of the movers and shakers in video game design and his ideas have more or less shaped the industry as a whole. For example, while you can argue that Ultima or Fallout did it first, Peter and his boys at Lionhead popularized the whole good vs. evil aesthetic that so pervades the medium right now with his landmark title Black & White. You can’t really argue that his game made it cool for the visual look of a character to change dynamically with alignment that Bioware eventually used in their epics Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect.

The problem though, comes when you realize that Peter is more of an ideas man. Black & White sold tons of copies, but was generally tepidly received or remembered due to its feel as more of a sandbox game or a tech demo. Its unfocused nature. The idea was gold, the game wasn’t there. Fable was promised to be an epic story where things you did from day 1, like planting a tree, would radically change the future. It didn’t. The list of things promised for Fable that weren’t delivered was so long that it became a media point to say that what Peter says doesn’t necessarily get into the game, no matter how enthusiastic and brilliant he may sound saying it.

Today I’ll be picking up my pre-order of Fable 2. Will it satisfy or will it fall short of his promises? You can be sure that I’ll let you know here once I have a solid conclusion.

Also on the table for today: I tried adding some Just Bunches to my Honey Bunches of Oats and I’d have to say the result was stellar. The addition of more bunches really makes the cereal better without overpowering the other elements. A great idea, but not one I’ll be repeating by buying another box of Just Bunches in the future.

Little Big Planet, if you hadn’t already heard, was delayed until next week due to a controversial music track included in the game. The game had, I should say, a track in which passages of the Qur’an were recited in the background. Muslims claim that it is offensive to include passages in the Qur’an in art, so Sony decided to push back the game’s release date and Media Molecule, the game devs, removed the track from the discs. Some say that Muslims need to learn to chill out if they want to be respected in the global, free world, others say that they’re in the right to ask that their religious texts not be used. I agree more with the former, but I also understand why Sony did what they did and I do think that they at least made a good business decision, since they get pretty good sales in the Middle East.

Food For Thought: Just Bunches
Oct 9th, 2008 by Dan

If you don’t watch television, you might have missed out on the commercials advertising the new cereal derived from Honey Bunches of Oats, Just Bunches. I love Honey Bunches of Oats, mainly because the bunches add so much flavor to the flakes and almonds, so I thought, why not buy myself some Just Bunches cereal and enjoy the oats?

The real problem with Just Bunches is that eating bunches and bunches alone kind of sucks. It’s just too much to be able to eat in a normal bowl of cereal. I’m not a hater of just oat-based cereals, since I love Cracklin’ Oat Bran, but this one just doesn’t work properly. My recommendation: if you really love the bunches and want more in your Honey Bunches of Oats, buy this cereal and mix it in with a normal box to increase the oat bunch count. You can also add it to other foods that need supplementing, like yogurt, to enhance taste. Otherwise, I’d recommend you avoid eating Just Bunches.

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