Racial Indigestion Seminar Writing – Introduction and Chapter 1

Provoking Passages in Racial Indigestion:

“In Racial Indigestion, the black mouth speaks, laughs, and eats in the face of the violent desires of white supremacy; in fact, speech, laughter, and eating are conjoined as tropes of black cultural presence and resistance.” (9).

“it is quite within the employer’s purview to enter the cook’s mouth in order to discipline her tongue. In a more abstract sense orality gives the cook her access to power as well; while her mouth may be subject to middle-class discipline, she has access to her employers’ mouths as well. In fact the cook’s entire worth hinges on her mouth: it metonymizes her essential value as a cook.” (49).


Relevant quotes from U.S. News article ‘America Has a Big Race Problem’:

“We need a new, national conversation about race – about what it means when nearly every white person in America carries around an implicit racial bias that subconsciously prefers white people over black people in social, professional and educational settings. It’s black and white. It’s that stark. And we need to start on that conversation as soon as possible.”

“Dozens of national polls in America during the past two decades consistently show more than three-quarters of us don’t believe we have a problem with racial tension in America. Fewer and fewer Americans openly admit that they’re racist, these polls have shown for years. But a more nuanced study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that many Americans still do, in fact, harbor beliefs about racial and ethnic minorities that are based on racist stereotypes.”



While white Americans used to quite literally commodify African Americans by trading them and keeping them as slaves, our society clearly still tends to think of them as edible objects. Tompkins identifies that to make a group of people ‘edible’, they must first become socially degraded. Social degradation of the black community is more evident today than it has been since the time of slavery, with our country’s choice this past year to elect a racist bigot into office. The support that this offensive, prejudice man has received, along with his followers actions, provide plenty of evidence that we are nowhere close to equality between white and black cultures. Active discrimination in the workplace, criminal justice system, and field of education is running rampant. Institutions of every kind in America continue to have either conscious or subconscious biases against people of color. African Americans are suffering every day under the ever present looming idea that has progressed through the years, that they are somehow deemed of less value than white Americans. On a more terrifying level, people of color are now beginning to face violence and fear hate crimes from extremists. It is because of these severe pressures and incidents that I believe African Americans are not simply at a stage of social degradation, they are now at a stage where actual consumption of their culture is being attempted.

It is concerning because many people in today’s America do not see how trapped the black population is under these demeaning forces because the distinctions are not as defined as they were in times of slavery. An alarming amount of society’s members believe we live in a world that has moved past our old tendency towards racial tensions, yet it is clear that racist ideas still lie in the minds of plenty. The line between conscious and subconscious are beginning to become less and less blurred with current events as graphic slogans and images are spreading across the nation. Even those who have believed for a long while that we live in a post-racial time are awakening to reality and beginning to see how false that concept is.

Fortunately, the protests against racism are growing in size as the black lives matter movement persists on and demonstrations against racism are breaking out everywhere. Tompkins powerfully describes the past and current state of the strong voice that the black community holds as she states that “the black mouth is a site of political intensity itself, as it consistently occupies and preempts the domination of white desire, from the kitchen, from the back of the house an below the stairs, and then ultimately in the sphere of urban commodity culture.” (9). The mouths belonging to people of color as well as their white allies are speaking louder now than they have since the days of slavery. Anti-racist movements are doing their best to get white supremacists to choke on their ideas, begging them to spit out their hate. The resistance against the dominant-white culture is too vigorous to ignore.

While African Americans are well-adept at entering the mouths of the white extremists they feel subordinate too, it’s time for the chauvinistic supremacists to take a deeper look through the lips of black culture, and step inside the mouths that are speaking loudly to really feel the pain and eniquity that sits on their tongues. We can only hope that one day, more of these right-wing radicals will finally feel an uncomfortable churning in their gut and decide to vomit out their repulsive, cannabilistic desires to violently devour other beings with hostility.

The Secret Financial Life of Food Seminar Writing – Intro and Chapter 1

Provoking quotes from text:

“Commodities contracts aren’t about trading the tastiest corn, but about enabling the buying and selling of exact amounts of corn that meet these specific standards.” (11).

“For example, it is possible for coffee futures to surge 30 percent in a two-week span, but when we pick up a bag of coffee beans at the store, we don’t find that the price tag shows an equivalent 30 percent spike; it is likely the same price as the last bag we purchased.” (12).

Relevant quotes from article:

“Nearly 75 percent of surveyed bankers reported farm income was less than a year ago, although the percent of bankers that reported weaker farm income declined slightly from the first quarter (Chart 1). Respondents also noted that agricultural producers continued to reduce capital and household spending as profit margins generally remained weak.”

“Persistent declines in farm income in the District have continued to affect agricultural credit conditions. Demand for non-real estate farm loans and loan renewals continued to climb in the second quarter with additional increases expected in the third quarter (Chart 5). As noted in the Kansas City Fed’s most recent Agricultural Finance Databook, the rising demand for farm loans has been driven primarily by the need to finance short-term operating expenses as profit margins have remained weak.”


Commodity trading, while making it easier to exchange large amounts of goods, has made much of our food system, the farmer-to-consumer relationship, disconnected. Market prices for the average consumer remain the same day after day, regardless of if the farms that produced the ingredients in it made any money growing it. This bizarre, unengaged system doesn’t allow consumers to support the farmers. We don’t absorb any of the risk in farming and are able to lay back and relax if they take a fall, knowing there won’t be any change in the prices of what we buy. Farming is risky by nature, and farmers risk crop failure due to uncontrollable circumstances yearly. Additionally it’s no secret that farmers aren’t the wealthiest people on the planet. So few members of our society are responsible for providing nutrition for everyone in our society, and given how challenging it is I believe we should allow the market to surge up and down, so that we may celebrate when the year is going well and take on some of their hardship when the season is a fluke. Recent articles from the past year, like the one I found from a commodity news site called ZeroHedge, show that farmers are struggling to keep up with the standards, and aren’t doing well with the current prices they’re able to sell their crops for.

Part of the issue is that as a general whole, we value food that is as cheap as it can be, rather than food that is as nutritious or delicious as it can be. As Newman discusses, big time traders don’t care about looking at or trying the corn they buy, they just want to know that it fits the industry standards and that it isn’t more expensive than the market norms for the time. Farms need to enter these contracts, though, or else they face not being able to sell their crops at all. It would be so nice for farmers and consumers both if consumers were aware of this pressure they feel, and could be motivated enough to relieve some of it from them by letting them know that there is a community that wants to buy corn that tastes good, even if it does cost a little bit more.

When people buy their processed food filled with corn at the store today, it will be the same price as always, and they won’t wonder if the corn farmer is well off on the profits they are making from it. To be honest, if the grocery stores hiked up the price of each canned corn by just one cent during a hard season, which they gave to the farms in order to reboost their economic health, no one would blink an eye at that either. So would it be so bad if we assumed some of the responsibility of growing the food we eat, letting the prices of our daily bulk goods like corn, soybeans, and wheat, in exchange for giving the farmers a sense of financial security and a chance to focus on making their product higher quality? I don’t think it would be too terrible at all.


Durden, Tyler. “Farmland Bubble Bursts As Ag Credit Conditions Crumble.” Zero Hedge. ZeroHedge, 12 Aug. 2016. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Newman, Kara. The Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets. New York: Columbia UP, 2013. Print.