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Connections: Is Thug Kitchen Racist?

Get ready for a lengthy explanation of a strange story that is blowing up, especially on the west coast. It's all about what some call "white people engaged in digital blackface":

For the past couple of years, a food blog -- of all things -- has gone viral. It's called Thug Kitchen (Note: the link is NSFW and contains profanity). It has real recipes -- vegan recipes, and they're really good. 

The creators of the blog were never revealed. But now they have a book coming out. A bunch of bookstores are carrying the Thug Kitchen book, and so last month, the creators revealed themselves --- They're a white couple from Hollywood.

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That set off a wave of criticism. Many people defended them as simply having fun, using colorful language, etc. Others have accused them of appropriating black culture, or outright racism. This week they canceled a book signing event after the store received numerous complaints. In other cases, their signing events are turning into community conversations about what is humorous, what is not, what is appropriate, what is not.

So what are the lessons about cultural appropriation? Are we being overly sensitive? 

We discuss this with our panel: 

  • Verdis Robinson, assistant professor of Historical and African-American Studies at MCC
  • Dena Swanson, associate professor of Counseling and Human Development at the Warner School of Education


Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
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