I first noticed the usage of the word ‘plantation’ from a UK food photographer I followed. I already found it strange and a little inconsiderate, but I thought she is from the UK so maybe there is less of a stigma.
Little did I know, the word ‘plantation’ is being widely used in the U.S food world, from whiskey to dessert to restaurant names. When I saw this podcast, I knew I need to listen to it and find out more.
The hosts put emphasize on learning why people would choose to use the world ‘plantation’ and what they want to accomplish with the word choice. It is less about forcing people to change their word choice. Hopefully curious questions would lead to some more awareness and more self education.
Almost all the white people who agreed to the interview talked about the plantation evokes warm and fuzzy feelings, the ideas of leisure, and plenty of food. This cultural image was manufactured in the 1930s in books, movies, and food advertisements when the Great Migration(a large number of Black people moved from the South to the North) happened. This marketing technique clearly sells and succeeds at selling for a long time proven by brands like ‘Aunt Jemima’ did not rebrand until very recently.
I especially loved the exchange between the host and a food historian. The host asked why he as a white male can spend 40+ years of his life not realizing that the word plantation has a negative connotation. The food historian asked where his ideas would be challenged anyways. It is not challenged in school. It is not challenged in society. If he is not particularly close to the African American community, he won’t have friends tell him otherwise about the plantation. It highlights the importance to have real history taught in school, discussed in society as well as have friends from different communities.
The show also emphasizes the importance of self-education and not relying on friends from marginalized communities to ‘hold our hands’ and teach us.
I absolutely loved the intersection of food, history, and American’s complicated past. Highly recommend!
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