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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fastfood Racism In Japan

First off… the photo above - this isn't a new photo. I don't know WHEN it was taken, suffice to say that it was taken in front of a fast-food establishment in Japan.

Okay… is it just me but is this whole scene big-time risque with its racism?

First off… the image shows Colonel Harland Sanders - the founder of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).

I enjoy the KFC products, though the wait time (such as at Etobicoke near Kipling Station) seems rather long to me.

Colonel Sanders wasn't a real Colonel in military and I never met the man to know if he is an actual gentleman or not - let's say he is… he was a practicing lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas, however.

He was recommissioned as a Kentucky colonel in 1950 by Governor Lawrence Wetherby, Sanders began to dress the part, growing a goatee and wearing a black frock coat (later switching to a white suit), a string tie, and referring to himself as "Colonel"

Now - back to the photo... that statue in front of the Japan-based KFC shop is interesting.

Yeah - all of the KFC shops in Japan have a Colonel Sanders statue out front as a kind of mascot.

No, I don't think there is anything overly weird about dressing the plastic(?) statue up in a Japanese yukata (a male light kimono). It's just THIS shop, but what the heck.

I don't believe the pattern ON the yukata is very flattering because yes, I do feel more than qualified to discuss men's fashion in Japan - seeing as how every damn day in Japan I dressed better than damn near ever person I ever met.

It does need to be hemmed, however.

But… that's not the problem.

It's the fact that the Colonel appears to be holding a watermelon.

  • Problem #1: There are far too many watermelon seeds on that fake watermelon.
  • Problem #2: Does KFC actually sell watermelons? In Canada and the U.S. I'm pretty sure they don't… granted I haven't been to a KFC facility in a few weeks. Still - bait and switch… an illegal practice retailers should be wary of.
  • Problem #3: That watermelon is racist.
Yeah, I know a watermelon can't be 'racist' per se… it was written as such for effect.

There is a stereotype that all Black people love fried chicken. I think most people in this world who eat meat and who eat fried foods like fried chicken.  Regardless of color.

There is also a stereotype that all Black people love watermelon. I think most people in this world who enjoy spitting seeds enjoy the sugary, watery goodness of a watermelon.  Regardless of color.

But… there have been many a time I have walked into a Popeyes (fried chicken place) or a KFC place here in Toronto and seen myself as the only non-Black person there. And I tend to live in a pretty White neighborhood (not by choice - it is what it is). Coincidence? Probably. But stereotypes are always based on some sort of fact or physical evidence.

Regarding watermelons… oh god… back in 1947 when Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers made his debut - the abuse he took….

According to Willie Weinbaum, producer of ESPN's ``Breaking the Line: Jackie Robinson's Legacy - Dodgers infielder Eddie Miksis told him of the abuse heaped on Robinson from the Philadelphia Phillies' dugout.

"[Miksis] talked about how the Phillies used to bring watermelon, chicken and pork chops into the dugout to taunt Jackie Robinson," Weinbaum said.

Porkchops? Never heard that one… aside from the vegetarians and maybe the Muslims and Jews (see you DO have much in common!) I think everybody enjoys eating porkchops - regardless of color… then again… I am chronaly-challenged when it comes to this aspect of racism.

So… having a 'white' guy who sells fried chicken holding up a watermelon - doesn't that sound completely… oh… racist?

It's not like Japan hasn't fallen into that trap before - what with there being recent examples of musicians wearing blackface paint… ala Al Jolson.

Time to call your Mammy, KFC Japan and make sure you don't allow your corporate image to be sullied by either ignorant pranksters, or by ignorant store branch managers.

By the way... in 1965 Sanders moved to Mississauga, Ontario, Canada to oversee his Canadian franchises and continued to collect franchise and appearance fees both in Canada and in the U.S. He stayed there until 1980.

So... I'm pretty sure I did see the real Colonel once or twice in my misspent youth.

Oh yeah... and as far as Japan, Colonel Sanders and baseball go... read this article I wrote HERE.

Andrew Joseph

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