What’s wrong with giving away fried foods?

Aaron Thomas | Staff Writer

I hope you weren’t expecting me to be in the Brickyard for Pan-Afrikan Pride Day.

Black Students Board (BSB) gave away free fried wings to those either wearing Pan-Afrikan Pride t-shirts, or able to answer a Pan-Afrikan trivia question, on Monday. I’m all for showing pride within the Black community; however, I refuse to support eating fried food as a reward.

I find it offensive when stereotypes are used in advertising. People think every black person likes fried chicken, watermelon, and Kool-Aid. “Showing some pride, and getting something fried” only encourages this stigma to continue.

Fried food has a historical connection in the African American community. Blacks used the leftover scraps “Massa” fed to them in slavery days. Over time, they developed new ways to fry food. Gathering after church or during the holidays has become a traditional part of Black culture. The gatherings allow us to eat foods with large amounts of salt, grease, and fat.

We find every reason to consume fried foods in excess.  Fried chicken, fried okra, and country style steak are all foods that don’t have to be fried! This explains the health disparities plaguing our community for generations.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, heart disease, diabetes and strokes are in the top 10 list for leading causes of death for African-Americans. My grandfather has had countless number of strokes. My grandmother went through quadruple bypass surgery in 2011. Both of their conditions are a result of bad eating throughout their entire life. At a young age, I witnessed older family members taking insulin shots.  After witnessing this for many years, I refuse to continue the trend.

Fried foods are essential to enjoying soul food. African Americans popularized the term soul in the 1960s to define our culture. One movie that comes to mind is Soul Food. The Joseph family joined together every Sunday for dinner while fellowshipping.

The beloved Big Mama suffers from diabetes, has a stroke and slips into a coma due to her eating habits over time.  Even though Big Mama dies due to her health issues, the family continues to eat soul food each Sunday as if nothing happened. If my “Big Mama” died, it would be a wake-up call for me to change my eating habits instantly.

Feasting on fried foods has become a tradition within the Black community. Our cultural identity is more than fattening foods. As a community, we can fellowship without encouraging unhealthy eating habits. The BSB could have found a better way to reward “pride” than passing out plates of fried wings.

Our pride should be invested in benefiting the lives of our fellow African Americans.

I commend the efforts of passing out food, but it doesn’t have to be fried. Today’s generation is full of students gearing towards a healthier diet. The event would be better if it didn’t offer such a stereotypical item on the menu.

Giving away fried food shouldn’t be something to cheer about.

Do better.