Chicken + Waffles = Racism

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This is a slightly amusing story in the Detroit media that all started when Nolan Finley, a Detroit News writer, wrote a column defending Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s food expense tab being picked up by what few taxpayers remain in Detroit. The controversy first stirred when Orr was accused of having an affinity for crab cakes at the expense of taxpayers in a city where he was hired to manage the city’s financial woes back to financial solvency. Finley defended Orr’s reasonable food expenses because of his small salary and his commitment to his job. Finley wrote the following in his column:

Orr’s doing a really big job, and if he does it well, Detroiters will see their streetlights come back on, more cops on their streets, EMS units that arrive while they’re still breathing and blight swept away from their neighborhoods.

If saving Detroit from its creditors makes Orr peckish for chicken and waffles in the middle of the night, I’d rather pick up the bill myself than give another tax dollar to a pandering politician who thinks the real problem in Detroit is what Kevyn Orr is eating.

Kevyn Orr is black, and thus Finley was immediately accused of stereotyping black people and chicken & waffles. One outraged imbecile wrote this on the pages of

But the fact that Finley, who’s unquestionably intelligent, chose to trot out the loaded “chicken and waffles” line about an African-American in the year 2013 is jaw-dropping.

The writer, Susan J. Demas, goes on to talk about Detroit’s racial history and controversies. Then, as she stirs the pot of racial victimology, she claims it is others, such as Finley, who are busy stirring the pot of racial overtones and crude stereotypes. African-Americans do have an affinity for chicken and waffles, as do white Southerners. Just as white folks have a fondness for sandwich shops or picking their own fruit.

So why these crass, narrow-minded reactions to simple and harmless conclusions based on facts? A few years ago, my (white) boss and I searched high and low for a local place that served chicken & waffles, because we were smitten with the idea. Finally, we found it – at a downtown soul food joint. Now it’s become an annual routine where I divorce my paleo self for the day and consume chicken & waffles just for the sheer joy of the experience. Does that make us guilty of celebrating diversity?

8:16 pm on August 13, 2013