White Couple Behind ‘Thug Kitchen’: You Don’t Get to Redefine the Word ‘Thug’
When you’re white, making vegan food, and hanging out with Rachael Ray, you probably aren’t a ‘thug.’ You also probably aren’t in any position to reclaim that particular word for your own entrepreneurial purposes. But, that is exactly what Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, the “masterminds” behind the blog and recipe book “Thug Kitchen,” are doing. And it’s disgusting.
I mentioned this couple in a previous post but it seems the point was lost on some of my readers so I am going to emphasize it here again. This time, I will do it with audio directly from the couple’s mouths.
See Exhibit A below where Davis and Holloway appeared on the Rachael Ray Show on Friday to sell their vegan food and curse words (I apologize in advance for the fact that this means you have to watch anything involving Rachael Ray. At least I fast forwarded the clip to the part you need to see. You can stop around minute 6:00 or 7:00).
Around minute 5:20, Ray mentions that “thug is a ‘funny’ name. It’s an attention grabber. So, there’s even been a little bit of controversy about the name ‘thug’. I don’t get it. Do you guys get it?” Davis replies with the following.
“Yeah, I mean, we understand where people are coming from. ‘Thug’ is a loaded word and it’s definitely gotten more loaded in the past year and a half in the news. But, we’ve always intended it – and used it as more of an attitude. It’s about being a [expletive].”
How she – a white woman – understands where we are coming from is simply beyond me.
Holloway jumped in after Davis cursed and had to contribute to the ‘swear jar’ by saying, “The atmosphere around it when we created it was a little different.”
Apparently, these two white people think that ‘thug’ just means cursing a lot and making “kick butt cooking” (never mind the black dialect they attempt to splatter all over their website). If only that’s all the word meant for black and brown people. For us, ‘thug’ means violent, dangerous, abusive, criminal, angry, aggressive, and worthless. I have literally never heard the words ‘thug’ and ‘funny’ in the same sentence. And, I am pretty sure when Davis says ‘loaded,’ she doesn’t mean it in the way the prototypical ‘thug’ would. But, these white people know better. They know what they are doing and what they did when they chose their name.
You see, to use their words, Davis and Holloway are lying motherfuckers. According to The Daily Beast, the couple have been exploiting the word ‘thug’ “since the Tumblr started in August 2012.” What also happened in early 2012? A young man named Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood in Sanford, Florida. His killer, George Zimmerman, got off in part because the media and the defense successfully convinced enough of the jury members and public watching that Martin was a “wannabe thug.” The atmosphere around the word “thug” wasn’t different in summer 2012. If anything, it was at its most vile, most disgusting, and most punitive. The word ‘thug’ in 2012 meant that it was justifiable to murder a black teenager. Sorry Rachael, I just don’t think that’s a ‘funny’ word.
The word ‘thug’ does not denote an ‘attitude.’ It can’t be worn to make food taste or smell better. It isn’t an aesthetic pleasure meant to make white people enjoy eating healthy food. It is purely meant to draw white people’s attention and exploit the fact that this word carries very serious meanings in our society. So serious for some that it could mean imminent death.
This further underscores that white people get to – and often do – behave badly for fun within a civil society which deems it cute, excusable, and even worth rewarding. Don’t forget the couple chose to hide themselves from the public eye for years before outing themselves as two well-to-do white people not even remotely resembling the ‘thug’ in their kitchen. There isn’t a single trace of them on their website – which I am intentionally omitting since I don’t want to encourage visits. They knew precisely what they were invoking with this name and they did it anyway. And, they knew it would look offensive if we knew they were white so they hid away until Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed them making it, therefore, okay to be exploitative douches.
This is what silent bigotry looks like. Black boys are dying in the street while white mainstream justifies it because black boys are automatically ‘thugs.’ Meanwhile, white people are selling vegan food under the same moniker? Nope. I’m not here for the ‘harmless fun’ style of ambivalent racism.
So, fuck them. Fuck them and their fucking food. I won’t be rewarding them for misbehaving while white especially at the expense of my own people.
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