The other day I went grocery shopping. As I strolled the aisles, I noticed a store employee wheeling out a cart loaded with watermelons. I licked my lips. I realized I hadn’t had a slice of watermelon all summer. How could that be?! It’s a summer thing to do, munch on a hunk of watermelon with a little salt sprinkled on the top, but y’all wouldn’t know nothing about that 😉 I waited until the employee emptied his cart and casually walked over to display. All of a sudden, I felt strange. I looked up and down the aisle. I hesitated before picking up the huge piece of watermelon, wrapped nicely in cellophane. What was going on? Why couldn’t I just pick up the watermelon and place it into my cart, as I had done the other food items?
As a black person, it’s hard not to shake out this stereotypical image of black folks and watermelon from my mind:
In her blog article titled “Why I don’t Eat Watermelon in Public,” Keisha discusses this old (and as she puts it, played out) stereotype:
This racial weapon has been around since the days of slavery. Watermelon was one of the foods masters deigned to feed their captives. Slavery has ended, this black chick is free, happily riffing on racists. So why does the watermelon obsession persist? Why are some racists so fixated on black people eating watermelon? Are their hoards of black people across America buying up all the watermelon, keeping them from melon-loving racists?
LOL! But it’s true. There seems to be an obsession with racists of this imagery of black folks spitting out watermelon seeds and eating fried chicken. Just like some cops don’t want to be seen eating donuts, some black folks don’t want to eat watermelon around non-black folks. It’s not that we are ashamed, but it can make you pause..I did go ahead and buy the watermelon. Stereotypes, be damned. One thing I have learned as a black feminist, white folks going to believe what they want about you. It doesn’t matter if you eat watermelon or not, if folks are racist/prejudiced they cling to those stereotypes. It feeds into their white supremacist thought. It isn’t my problem, it’s theirs. Matter of fact, I think I will go have a slice right now 🙂