I found Tuesday’s “Foodents” column both insensitive and lacking in informational value. The article’s insistence upon describing all things in their opposite, a nod to February 18’s Opposite Day, allowed for generalized and racially insensitive assertions both about Lem’s BBQ House and its surrounding neighborhood. In writing that “the ground is clean and free of…beer cans, and people only put their cigarette butts in ashtrays,” the authors rely on an uninventive and stereotypical rendering of African-American neighborhoods. Having visited Lem’s, I cannot recall streets populated with cans of beer. Maybe the authors simply visited on a bad day.
In addition, the authors condescendingly generalize about people in the surrounding neighborhood. They write, “Everyone read Petrarch at Oberlin and liked it—a lot.” I’m unsure what this statement’s opposite is supposed to be; the notion that residents are poorly educated, and would be uninterested in an author like Petrarch, is elitist, unfounded, and insulting. Moreover, when the authors write that in spite of their appearance, “people were really friendly and made some nice conversation,” they imply that by virtue of their not being black they expected hostility from the restaurant’s customers and staff. All of this might be characterized as a bad joke if the piece actually conveyed interesting details about Lem’s food. As the piece stands, it’s impossible to accurately ascertain what their food tastes or looks like. While I don’t doubt the intentions of the authors, or their attempt at humor, the article remains both unrevealing and insensitive.
Maroon Sports Editor
Autumn ’10–Winter ’11
Class of 2011