Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life—but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list, too. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to present our semi-regular racism surveillance machine. Stay woke, and keep your head on a swivel out there.
Last June, Uncle Ben’s became Ben’s Original. Yes, the iconic rice brand known for its hella racist logo—a grey-haired Black man believed to depict an enslaved chef from the 1800s—woke the hell up, read the room, and removed Ben’s smiling face from the packaging.
Finally, we could all eat shrimp fried rice with a clear conscious. Racism was defeated! Or at least that’s what some may have believed. But nooooo. Bigots have once again reclaimed the delicious base of countless dishes for their own evil purposes.
Just when we thought Condoleezza was the worst thing to happen to rice, a St. Paul Pioneer Press story published Sunday (July 10) reports that residents in Lino Lakes, Minnesota have been discovering baggies of the uncooked food on their premises, each with a sadly unimaginative racist note attached.
“Defend: White children, White families, White values, your people, your race, your nation,” reads the flyer, which looks like it was designed in Microsoft Word 97. According to the news outlet, Lino Lakes State Senator Roger Chamberlain has called these actions “an attempt to sow seeds of hate and division in our community.”
Earlier this month, Fox 9 reported a similar trend happening in Cottage Grove, another Minnesota suburb about 30 miles south of Lino Lakes. In those cases, bags of rice were paired with flyers that promoted the term “The Great Replacement,” a racist conspiracy theory parroted by fragile-ass White folks who believe immigration policies are designed to systematically replace them with non-White migrants.
The Cottage Grove Minnesota Police Department has responded to the aforementioned incidents via Facebook. "Hate will not be tolerated in Cottage Grove. Period," says Police Chief Pete Koerner, according to a note posted to the social network on July 2. Elsewhere, the post claims the following: "The group these flyers direct people to is linked to white supremacy. While the information in these flyers isn't illegal, we agree that it is disturbing."
Disturbing yet legal, eh? Sounds like America in a nutshell. While authorities continue to investigate these cases of whole-grain racism, we’ll be over here minding our damn business, cooking up some Jollof.