Amidst the media uproar over a discrimination lawsuit against TV chef and entrepreneur Paula Deen - How often did she say the n-word? Did she plan a plantation dinner with slaves? Is she a racist? Well, duh - comes the clear, calm, pissed but thoughtful voice of Michael Twitty, a black Jewish chef, writer and fellow Southerner whose Cooking Gene Project explores the food history of slaves and enslavers. In an open letter to Deen rejecting "the national surprise towards you saying the word 'nigger' (as) an attempt to hide the pervasiveness of racism," Twitty focuses on "the realities of our struggles with identity as a nation" and the "culinary injustice" of plantation museums where "the food that those plantations were renowned for came from Black men and Black women truly slaving away in the detached kitchens....dying multiple deaths of anonymity and cultural amnesia."
"I am probably more angry about the cloud of smoke this fiasco has created for other issues surrounding race and Southern food. Systemic racism in the world of Southern food and public discourse, not your past epithets, are what really piss me off."