What To Serve Black People For Dessert

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Heh. From Goldblog:

I'm having a fight with my wife over a seemingly stupid issue. We're having friends over soon for a barbecue, and in planning the menu, I said we should have watermelon for dessert. She objected because some of our guests are African American, and she thought they might take offense. I said it's not racist to serve watermelon to black people, and she agreed. But she thought that, to avoid making our guests uncomfortable, we should be sensitive to stereotypes. Is she being hyper-politically correct, or is she right that people might think we're projecting racial stereotypes onto our guests?

H. R., Philadelphia, Pa.

Dear H. R.,

Well, it sounds like we're in for a very relaxed barbecue. Are you serving existential angst for an appetizer? To borrow from Freud, sometimes a watermelon is just a watermelon. My suggestion, though, is for you to serve cantaloupe, or honeydew, or another member of the melon family, or perhaps a selection of berries, not because watermelon would necessarily offend your guests, but because its presence would destabilize your excessively thoughtful wife. And we'd like her to enjoy the barbecue too.

This is interesting. If I were black I would take zero offense--though I'd spend most of the desert ribbing the hell out of my hosts. Oh they'd be sick of me.

The real problem with serving watermelon for desert is that so much of it sucks, nowadays. Unless you're pulling it off a pickup track with red clay on the tires, I generally don't want any part.

Dude needs to man up and get his cobbler-game going. Want to impress your black friends? Bake the hell out of some peach cobbler. Or some banana pudding. If you pick watermelon we probably won't think you're racist. We might think you're cheap, though.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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