What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why McDonald's Is Ethnic Food

I've been thinking again recently about the issues of race and racial reconciliation...and the struggles that us wonderful but confused white people have when it comes to the issues. One of the hurdles to a fruitful (and genuinely Christian) approach to the issue is that we don't understand that McDonald's is ethnic food.

One of the major barriers to white people being involved in the racial reconciliation process is the fact that we're blind to the fact that we have a particular culture in the first place.

In the ground-breaking book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria," there's a great story of a white woman complaining at the end of a class discussion on race that "I'm not white, I'm just normal!"

Because white folks are in the majority, we don't even recognize that we have a particular culture. We don't see that we have a particular way of doing things, organizing our society, and a values taxonomy that is good and bad, has strengths and weaknesses, has blessed many people and has done tremendous harm. Every culture has that. Including white culture.

We don't think about our race and ethnicity because we don't have to. We're not "white," we're just normal. And so we call all food that isn't white "ethnic food."

And that belies the fact that we have no idea that the tray you get with your value meal comes freighted with white cultural values: consistency (you get the same Big Mac from Maine to Spokane), speed, and disposability...with, of course, the option to be summarily (and speedily) super-sized.

We can argue the benefits or detriments of these values, but what we cannot miss is that this combination of values is unique to white America. Until we take the blinders off to the fact that white is a unique and particular ethnicity, it will be impossible for us to enter into fruitful long-term dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other ethnicities about moving forward in reconciliation.

A quick plug: the book "Being White" is a great help for folks who are interested in taking a step into this journey...and just saying "no" to being super-sized is a great help for folks who are interested in any sort of clogged-artery-free life.

[True confession bloggers note: for the two of you who have been with me that long, this is a slightly re-worked post from a couple years ago...hope you enjoyed!]

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