For the third post in my Black History Month series, I have decided to tackle a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and that of my fellow Blacks around the globe: Fried Chicken.
Over the years, many of my non-Black counterparts have often asked me the question, “[Kay]….why do Black people love fried chicken so much?”
My response is always the same, “[Counterpart]…be real, EVERYBODY loves fried chicken (so much).”
What I want to say to them, but rarely have the time to explain, is that the real question that they are asking isn’t why Blacks love to eat the most glorious culinary delight ever created. The answer to that is simple. It’s crunchy, it’s seasoned, and you can put hot sauce, mild sauce, and ketchup on it.
What I want to say to them is that the question that they are really asking is, “Why do Black people eat SO MUCH fried chicken?”
That question, while less politically-correct, is a real topic- worthy discussion…especially in Chicago.
Last week, the Manhattan Institute published a study confirming to the world what most of us already know: Chicago is most segregated city in the U.S.
I won’t take time reiterating points outlined in the article, however, I would like to explain the obvious impact of de-facto segregation and the implications that it has had on the access to non-fried chicken food options for communities of color:
A quick snapshot of the south side* of Chicago reveals the following:
- It comprises 40 of the 77 communities
- It covers 60% of the land in the city
- It has a higher ratio of single family homes than elsewhere in the city
- It holds the majority of industrial-zoned land outside of the central business district
To sum up the facts listed above, one could simply say there is a lot of land, a lot of business opportunities, and a lot of hungry people on the south side.
430 vs. Nothing
You would think with so much land and so many hungry people, the food heavens would open up and rain upon us every tasty delight that one could hope for.
However, that is the furthest thing from reality.
A quick search on yelp will reveal a great snapshot of fast-food options that south-siders (approximately 40% of the city’s population) enjoy. There are approximately:
- 430 fried chicken options
- 1 Chipotle
- 1 Jamba Juice
- 3 Potbellys
- 1 Panera Bread
- 5 Starbucks (compared to 123 in communities north of the central business district)
Yes, non-south siders...there is a place where Whole Foods and Trader Joes do not exist.
So what’s a hungry Black girl to do? What’s a south sider to do?
Yes, we can cook more.
Which is what I personally end up doing 75% of the time.
Yet, every now and then, when my day has been long and my child has been crying and my husband is hungry, I would just like something good to eat and easy to access.
I would love it if those options included a salad, or a Panini, or even a falafel sandwich but for now, until better options are available, when I’m really hungry, and I don’t have anything to cook, I’ll continue to painfully enjoy my four wing dinners and pray that my blood doesn’t turn to frying oil, that my hair doesn’t turn into flour, and that my sweat doesn’t turn into mild sauce, hot sauce, or ketchup.
*Southside is defined as all communities south of Roosevelt street and east of Western avenue in Chicago, Illinois.