Saturday, November 7, 2009

Food Slurs -- revisited, then introduced

so amazing, the ways some texts sometimes take. like "Food Slurs: an e-flection on multicultural mockings". the essay is the slightly edited copy & paste of an e-mail conversation that kept moving to interesting reflections: from racism to ethnical food, to political in/correctness, to skin colour and to ethnical mockings. yet, hadn't it been for a specific call for multicultural submissions from Sage of Consciousness, the whole chain of thought had remained in the mail folders, and faded in time.

in March 2007, "Food Slurs" went online, as part of the "Mulitcultural Minglings" issue of Sage. then, in 2008, Sage went into haitus, and the issue pages went offline. i still had a copy of the page, but otherwise, Food Slurs fell silent.

came 2009. and the invitation to contribute to Jeff Crouch's "Famous Album Cover" project. which then lead to a fictional album and band: The White Squares, created together with Karyn Eisler. a quirky quick project, we thought at first. and it was. yet the White Squares also induced an e-mail conversation about.. race. and cultural differences. suburbs. and the world.
from there, it was only a step to digging up Food Slurs again, as an additional link to the notes on the process. here the entry: Famous Album Covers: The White Squares.

well. and the story moves on. turned out that Food Slurs fitted into a course Karyn was preparing at that time. "I'm thinking of using 'food slurs' in the 'Introduction to Sociology' course, in the section on 'Race and Ethnicity' - it would give examples of how racial and ethnic groups are socially constructed when completely subjective and arbitrary meanings are attached to groups of people, and when these meanings contain moral judgements. it is the perfect piece to show this, and also to show how food is often used to create and reinforce these social constructions."

i was amazed, just like Eric, who wrote back: "i would love it if the piece were used in a college course. that's awesome."

now the course took place. and Food Slurs was copied and read aloud. here's how this went (and how i wished i had been part of those classes.)

so today i handed out your 'food slurs' piece in both classes!

in the first class, i read it out loud, and whenever i came to a german word, i had a german speaking student read it for me, and she said the words in german so beautifully. it was very cool. and after, some students gave their own examples of food related assumptions based on ethnic groupings. one student said that people often make the assumption that he likes spicy food because of his ancestry. thing is, he doesn't like spicy food at all, and he rarely, if ever, eats it. and a student who self-identifies as mexican said that people always assume she wants to eat at taco bell, which she hates.

in the second class, rather than me read it, i had the students, one by one, read a paragraph, going up and down the rows. and after, in that class, a student who hails from both france and quebec said that the english call the french 'frogs', and use the label in a derogratory sense. in reverse, the french fire back and call the english 'roast beef'. there were some other interesting comments also. and the article really is a great example of so many of the ideas on both race and ethnicity that we'd been talking about. so, thanks!

and now i just did a webarchive search for Sage of Consciousness -- and it looks like the magazine is planning a relaunch. there's a first page up, with a note from Nov 2009. "Sage of Consciousness - Welcome back readers, writers, and artists". the page is still under construction, but some archive links are included already, and a new call for submission is planned.

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