Rants

Is Peanut Butter Racist?

The Portland Tribune recently wrote about a program in Portland public schools called "courageous conversations", where educators attend training sessions and meetings designed to understand their own 'white privilege' so that they can "change their teaching practices to boost minority students' performance".

The assumption that educators in the public school system are "privileged and white" was irksome, but what really killed me is the quote from Verenice Gutierrez, who inferred that a peanut butter sandwich is racist, after one of her teachers used the lunchroom staple in a school lesson last semester.

"What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?" says Gutierrez, a principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School in Northeast Portland.

"Another way would be to say: 'Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?' Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita."

Really?  Peanut butter is racist? 


After doing a little investigating on the USDA website, I learned that China is the leading producer of peanuts and one of the leading exporters of peanut butter.

In

fact, the United States is number three in peanut production, with

India being number two. Nigeria, by the way is number four, with Indonesia, Myanmar, Sudan, Senegal,

Argentina, and Vietnam trailing behind. That's a pretty diverse and global list right there.

What's more - the peanut's origins lie

in South America, where the humble and worldly legume was first traced

back to Peru over 7,000 years ago.

Peanuts and peanut butter are enjoyed all over the world - from Israel to China and back to the good ole' U.S. of A.

As

a kid growing up in New York, our school was treated to a class trip to

the United Nations. After the tour, we were invited for lunch at the

Nigerian Embassy, where we were served a native dish called ground nut

chicken. After looking at it and poking it for a bit, one of us bravely

went in for a bite. "It's just chicken with peanut butter," Lynne cried

out!  And so it was...peanut butter on chicken direct from West Africa.

So,

instead of calling peanut butter (or any other food) racist, why not get off your politically-correct high horse and do

what kids in lunchrooms do every day to celebrate

diversity -- trade your lunch with the person sitting next to you.

You

never know....it may be peanut butter you find wrapped inside that pita or slathered in that torta.



KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss