How America Normalizes Racism Through the Watermelon Stereotype

How America Normalizes Racism Through the Watermelon Stereotype

In Europe, throwing bananas at black football players has become a common habit, as a way for racists to show their contempt by belittling them and treating them like monkeys. In the United States, another fruit is used to display a similar message to African-Americans: watermelon. But, when and how did this casteist link between kale and watermelon come into existence?


Watermelon is a creeping fruit, originally from southern Africa, and therefore did not exist in the Americas prior to the period of slavery, brought by enslaved blacks who enjoyed the fruit. After the abolition of slavery, watermelons became one of the few fruits they were allowed to grow, thus being able to earn some livelihood through sales.

Soon, she became a symbol of freedom for blacks, and of course, this did not please the whites, who, in response, destroyed the symbolism by turning what stood for emancipation and freedom into filth and idleness . Thus, the habit of eating watermelon was associated with blackness, the way they ate the fruit, which, according to the aristocracy, was characterized by “eating with their hands, smelling themselves and leaving a face full of broth”.


You can clearly see how sad I am.

This emphasis was used to disqualify the ways of blacks and to keep them as uncivilized animals, as well as to treat them as human beings, “If they had melon and their peace, they would have nothing else.” is not required nor has any right”. ,

Thus, watermelon was widely used in the stereotypical and racist repertoire, to reveal products, caricatures and representations in which black was a “watermelon junkie and who would be able to drop anything if one was thrown in front of him.” “.

Dispute with Walt Disney Studios

It wasn’t common knowledge until the 1980s that it was politically incorrect to cast watermelon-eating blacks in the media, and if insisted, the company would be the target of lawsuits and even boycotts.

Therefore, Disney has always been criticized for the absence of black characters in its animations, a situation that only changed in 2009, when the studio released the film “The Princess and the Frog”, the first black character in its franchise. Princess: There was Tiana. The film was a success at the box office, grossing $271 million, and saves the princess from a plan of danger, featuring a hardworking woman who chases after her dreams – despite the fact that, in 70% of the film, He is in the format Frog, “masking” his colour.

But, after all, in every success there is an obvious controversy. For its marketing campaign, the company decided to launch a candy line in which each fruit would represent “Disney Princesses,” a media franchise owned by the Walt Disney Company. The bigger problem would have been the distribution of flavors by each princess, as Tiana accurately represented the taste of watermelon, while Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) tasted vanilla, an extremely expensive condiment and for a long time only accessible to royalty, which was white. ..

the week staff
the week staff
Disney Candy

Obama’s case

Another controversial case involving the issue was an editorial caricature of the Boston Herald, intended to satirize the White House security lapses under the Obama administration. It sparked a storm of protests and accusations of racism, which led to an immediate apology from the newspaper.

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The illustration shows President Barack Obama brushing his teeth in the bathroom as a man in the bathtub asks “Have you tried the new watermelon-flavored toothpaste?”.

Boston Herald
Boston Herald
The White House Invader Has Arrived Farther Than Originally Thought

Obama was also the target of several attacks on the Internet during his candidacy, with several “memes” popping up to anger him with the watermelon stereotype.

The “meme” posted on Twitter mocks Obama’s image for being a black man.

New stereotypes of the 2000s

In addition to watermelon, there are few other foods disparagingly associated with blacks and their culture and, basically, they are all of a common origin. Let’s check two of them:

1- Grape Soda

Grapefruit soda was a drink consumed in the ghetto of the United States, as it was a much cheaper drink than all other sodas and was very simple like a grapefruit doily with triple sugar and cost 25 cents. Because it is cheap and so sweet, its popularity grew especially among children and thus very quickly became an offensive racial stereotype.

2- Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is a typical Southern American dish, characteristic of the most racist region of the United States, in which mummies were experts in making dishes with chicken, meat was abundant in the region, and everyone praised their secret recipes. .

The offensive meaning became popular with DW Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation. In a scene in the film, the Legislative Assembly is shown after blacks have gained the right to be elected. All white people behave according to the protocol that the place requires, but black people do not: they drink during sessions, put their bare feet on the table, behave without any etiquette.

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It ends with humor in the scene that a black MP takes out a bucket and starts eating a fried chicken in an extremely rude and sarcastic manner. The purpose of the scene would be to highlight how blacks “have no way of dealing with politics” and that allowing them to enter that space was a complete mistake.

Since then, the stereotype has strengthened and even given the black community space for events of an extremely offensive character—such as the opening of a restaurant specializing in fried chicken, in 1925: the Coon’s Chicken Inn. The restaurant was the target of protests by groups such as the historic NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) from the 1930s until its last unit finally closed in 1957. . ,

Supervised by Mean Jovem journalist Yeda Vasconcelos.

About the author: Will Smith

"Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker."

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