Eating Race: Blackness, Whiteness, Gender and the Politics of Taste

TIME: 6pm – 7.30PM

By: Giulia Fabbri 

In contemporary mass culture, specific foods, and the politics of taste associated to them, are strongly connected with the categories of gender and race. The visual discourse related to chocolate, cocoa and coffee is articulated on the juxtaposition of products and black female bodies, evoking the concepts of pleasure, eroticism and color.

The advertising tradition that combines coffee and cocoa —both colonial products—and black bodies is rooted in the history of colonialism and slavery, but in the Italian case it intersects, from the 1980s, with the colonial stereotype of the Black Venus and a new commercial trend that used images of hypersexualized women. If some advertisements for chocolate and coffee are an expression of the intersection of sexism and neo-colonial racism, at the same time in the United States several alt-right political groups are affirming a hegemonic idea of white masculinity through the symbology associated with milk.

These groups celebrate the consumption of milk and meat to perform the white hetero-patriarchal hegemony and associate the consumption of plant-based milk (and, more generally, vegetarianism) with reduced virility and feminist, antiracist and antifascist issues. This presentation examines the process of defining specific foods as racial signifiers and their connection with the reproduction of white supremacy. The visual discourse that assigns racial connotations to specific foods constitutes an interesting perspective because it reveals not only the multiple expressions of the intersection of racism with gender, but also the connections between race, gender, consumption, imperialism and alternative food choices.

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