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Collard Greens & Pseudo-Events

Reader “Jones” — who, I feel obliged to point out to counter whataboutism, is a Muslim of Asian background — comments on the Millennial Builders in the Ruins [1]thread:

To the people writing in to say, “isn’t it great and virtuous to care about problems that you don’t actually have?”, I say, yes, in some abstract way it is; but the problem is that you tend not to actually know anything about the problems that don’t affect you. More generally, it means that you have no actual investment in seeing the problems through to a solution. Which is why there have been 10,000 articles at Vox about the incredibly momentous social progress represented by a Hollywood blockbuster called “Black Panther,” which is a literally a movie about an imaginary world where black people are doing well.

It also means episodes like that one at NYU recently, where a black undergrad got a couple of low-level food service workers fired because they put together a stereotypical menu of soul food, which caused her an ideological injury. The food service workers were black. Her imaginary injury led this callow youth to put up a post on Facebook and cause a very real injury to these two working class black people, and their families. And of course the NYT when reporting on this never bothered to go find those people, and ask them how they liked being fired, or how it affected their families, or how they planned to pay rent next month. The real lesson being learned by the undergrad: I belong to a superior caste, and if you offend me I can put up a post on Facebook and get you fired.

Did you hear about that NYU episode? It’s outrageous. The NYT reports: [2]

On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, corn bread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water.

Nia Harris, a sophomore in N.Y.U.’s College of Arts & Science, sought an explanation from Weinstein Passport Dining Hall’s head cook. The cook dismissed her objections, Ms. Harris said in an email to university officials, telling her that the Kool-Aid was actually fruit punch (it was not, she said) and that the dining hall served fruit-flavored water “all the time” (it does, she said, but not watermelon).

Ms. Harris, 19, posted a screen shot of her email on Facebook, along with a post that began, “This is what it’s like to be a black student at New York University.” It spread quickly.

Wait, Kool-Aid is racist? Why does the NYT simply assume that Kool-Aid is racist? Here’s what Nia Harris posted.  [3]


Within a day, Andrew Hamilton, the university president, had released a statement [4] calling the menu “inexcusably insensitive.” He said that the food and beverage choices had been made by Aramark, the university’s food service provider, with no input from N.Y.U. officials, and that the “error was compounded by the insensitivity of the replies” to Ms. Harris’s questions.

“N.Y.U.’s dining administrators will insist that Aramark put in place a mechanism to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s episode, such as consulting the existing student advisory body and campus cultural groups about the menu for special events,” Mr. Hamilton said in his apology, which was reported  [5]by The Washington Square News [5], N.Y.U.’s student newspaper.

 Aramark already requires employees to do that, but it said that two of its workers violated that standard by planning the menu on their own. Both were fired on Wednesday, and the company said it was retraining its N.Y.U. employees.

So, Jones is right: two working-class people — the cafeteria manager and head cook — got fired because this snowflake who is privileged enough to attend NYU (tuition, room, and board: $63,000 [6]) was offended that they prepared a menu that reflects what certain black Americans traditionally eat. I have news too for Nia Harris, a middle-class person from Chicago: I don’t know about Kool-Aid, but ribs, collards, cornbread, and watermelon represents what Southern white country people have traditionally eaten too. I grew up with that food, and love it to this day. Had I been an NYU student or employee eating in the cafeteria that day, I would have been so pleased to have that on the menu.

Anyway, this strikes me as something close to what Daniel Boorstin called a “pseudo-event”: an event staged for the sake of the publicity it will create. Except in this case, two working-class people (one black and one white, according to the food services company) lost their jobs because this black college student diva — the daughter of an administrative law judge — had her feelings hurt by being confronted with food that actual poor and working class black people (and Southern white people) eat.

That is what it is like to be a cafeteria worker at New York University. The class divide in American politics doesn’t really exist. It’s a cultural divide. Can you imagine being so insufferably privileged that you feel entitled to raise hell over the supposed symbolism of cafeteria food? Wendell Berry once wrote [7], sarcastically:

Quit talking bad about women, homosexuals, and preferred social minorities, and you can say anything you want about people who haven’t been to college, manual workers, country people, peasants, religious people, unmodern people, old people, and so on.

A Nia Harris SJW corollary: Frame your bullying in preferred progressive tropes and you can do anything you want to working-class people, people who serve college students, and so on.

UPDATE: Fascinating bit from a German reader:

Seven years ago I had the dubious pleasure to do research in the rare books department of Amherst college in Massachusetts. I am German and had heard of US private colleges but never actually spend a lot of time in one of them.
What I found was truly unbelievable for somebody who was used to the rather shabby environment of our state run free universities. The cafeteria was like a good, yes very good self service restaurant. There was vegetarian food,grilled meat, asian food and all in bio quality. Of course I enjoyed eating there and also the free New York Times which you picked up with your meal.
What soured me on the place was the terrible PC atmosphere. One professor made some lame joke involving male sexuality in my presence. It was really nothing but he then excused himself profusely. The campus was full of signs that it was the abode of true goodness and progress. It was unbelievably in your face and I quickly realised that you better watch what you say. It felt as if there were so many invisible land mines.
What amazed me was the tuition. It was an altogether incredible, shocking number. I believe something like 50 000$. More than what the average German makes in a year and probably also more than what the majority of Americans make. So I presumed that you get a world class education. Imagine my shock when I looked at their curriculum for learning Russian. (A language which I speak freely). Amazingly enough their schedule was less hard than the one I had had to endure in my German uni many years ago. So I wondered why on earth you would spent such incredible money for what was nothing special? I was told by an Estonian student (who hated the place as much as I did) that students in these sort of places get to know the right people. So Amherst college was a sort of finishing school for the kids of the elite where they make the right contact and get inoculated with the right world view.
The cafeteria wasn´t always open and I didn´t have the money for one of the more fancy places. So I ate in a cheap mexican place. There I got to know
some of the people servicing these children of priviledge. One evening I had a conversation which makes me feel bad to this day. To understand what follows here one more thing about Amherst college: it is an island of beautiful genteel architecture. It has a small town old fashioned village kind of feel. But just walk a bit and you come to a very different sort of place: a mall with huge stores, horrible food and a desert like gigantic parking space. In short the total opposite of Amherst college.
So what happened was that I started to talk to two aging hippies. They were nice people of a different generation. They had foregone a higher education but had lived a “free” life when making a living had been much easier in the US.They had values which I could relate to: nature, outdoors, reading something interesting.
But they had fallen on hard times. She was working
in a nursing home and he (a former truck driver) had had a head injury and got some money from the government. They just made ends meet. What I regret to this day is that I told them how I really liked the physical appearance of Amherst college but couldn´t abide the horrible way they had disfigured this beautiful part of New England with malls and parking lots.
They became very defensive if not hostile. First I couldn´t understand their reaction but later it dawned on me: they were condemned to live in this kind of world. They didn´t have the money to live in such a nice place like Amherst college. Of course they knew in their innermost that I was right but you can´t go on living if you think about your surroundings like that. These people were part of a culture that the very denizens of Amherst college were looking down on. The fast food, the soulless malls and the crass entertainment. Of course the couple I was talking to knew that they were being looked down upon. Usually though they didn´t mind as they existed in a separate world. So when I came into their world and reminded them of how they are being viewed by the lucky ones on the hill they of course deeply resented it.
To me the liberal elite will have their come uppance. Trump was the first sign of things to come. You can get away with being richer than your fellow man. But you cannot get away with adding insult to injury. Not forever.

89 Comments (Open | Close)

89 Comments To "Collard Greens & Pseudo-Events"

#1 Comment By ludo On March 2, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

´Among fascist consumer leftists, no dissent is tolerated: “The fascist trick was/is to hit those unenlightened few who question these forceful and emotive narratives of prideful righteousness and entitlement and shame them publicly.” Serious thinking is forbidden, “because it is likely to offend, cause conflict, trigger warnings”. Thus cultural change is effected largely without challenge, “spurred by key social activists and a younger anti-Oedipal generation on social media who cannot believe their luck as they find themselves pushing at an open door”.´


The haute bourgeoisie left–right axis has been fascified in the U.S. On one side, the bottomless cynicism and mendacity of a Bill Kristol, a John R. Bolton, a Dick Cheney, and, of course, a Netanyahu, but, also (and almost caricaturally) a Stephen Miller. While, on the ostensible other, Secretary Clinton´s ¨We came, we saw, he died¨ and Madeleine Albright´s “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it,” (in response to the preventable deaths of thousands of Iraqi children following the imposition of economic sanctions).

A variegated axis, but also one united in its inexhaustible mendacity against supposed naifs and obstreperous competitors Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, a Russian polity that has not been subjugated and reduced to a neocolonized satellite of NATO and Western neoliberal banking interests, a la Greece. Ditto for Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, and the other remaining Greater Middle Eastern states that have not been utterly neocolonized by the same Western powers + Israel + U.S. that were responsible for colonizing and subjugating them the first time around during the so-called European Age of Empire.

Precisely the sort of desperate fascism that wishes to decimate the very idea of the possibility of shared political truths, outside of the idea that there can be no such truths, by inundating a heretofore less unequal, much less oligarchically-controlled polity with an endless stream of mediatized, and especially internetized, lies.

Kill the victims of inequality and oligarchic hegemony overseas and kill the truth of their deaths at home as part and parcel of a Shermanesque March towards the killing of Truth itself as the civilizing reality of human existence itself, the one that gives self-respect, as it were, to all other human disciplines and discourses. Outside of this lies the regressed ¨bewildered herd¨ of solipsistically and atomically addicted consumerist egos, lost in the endlessly confected lies of a schizophrenogenic wilderness that is certainly no motherland to subconsciously misogynized, because pornographied, Western man as a whole (i.e. the statistical species type), nor even a fatherland (and oppressive and rivalrous eo ipso), but a ´homeland,´ to which you egoistically, indolently, even libidinally, return, as you would a bachelor pad.

For the elites, the archons (as opposed to the somatized hoplites, the ´grunts,´ and, more generally, excluded, media-relativized masses), on the contrary, it is for them to be inspired by Dadaist art and surrealize their society, to be inspired by pomo-philosophy and its immediate Wittgensteinian antecedents, but also just importantly quantum physics, and ´relativize´ their society, and to combine the two in the somatizing and pornographizing utterly pliable/gelationous phenomenological and ontological dimensions of the internet and not relent, never relent, and hope and see what comes of the experiment: what it does to the masses to live in an exploding labyrinth of technological-informational oblivion, that causes you to forget all, indeed you to somatically (almost extrabodily) forget yourself, but algorithmically and plurisensorially records all of what you ineluctably forgot programmtically/robotically in turn. Because, ultimately, the Empire is in desperate straits and requires chaos and the stormiest of seas precisely to prevent the globally hegemonic American ship of state from disastrously running aground–the quantumly political age of relativity wakens into being as humanity is somatically euthanized into nihilism.


#2 Comment By Diane On March 2, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

Many ethnic groups who have been denigrated and mistreated have foods associated with their cultures. (I am Irish American; potatoes and beer come to mind.) I have often wondered at what point honoring a culture becomes racism.

#3 Comment By Polichinello On March 2, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

Re: Wait, Kool-Aid is racist?

I think the poster is probably referring to grape soda. It’s a bit a gag that blacks drink grape soda and smoke Kool Menthols–I mean, they do, but you’re not allowed to notice it, bigot!

#4 Comment By Addison Del Mastro On March 2, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

I recall when the George Zimmerman trial was going on, Trayvon Martin’s parents’ lawyer (I think) said “Trayvon was minding his own business, he was just going to 7-11 for his watermelon punch.” Maybe that wouldn’t fly today..

#5 Comment By Peter On March 2, 2018 @ 3:32 pm

One of the great virtues of religion, at least in the old days, was that its message was that we are all equal before God and equally special to God. Such a message can be great balm to unfortunates, the less gifted, the unlucky, the low-born, and so on. And it undercuts the gratuitous presumption of the elite. Marvin Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion (which I have been meaning to read for 25 years) discusses the great benefits of combining charity with a doctrine that offers dignity to all.

#6 Comment By l’autre J On March 2, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

[NFR: Yeah, I agree that it was dumb. But a firing offense? Really? Especially given that the cafeteria management was not trying to harm or insult anybody? — RD]

They may have been fired Friday afternoon and rehired Monday morning. One university I worked for did this with their mail people. Only the firing got reported in the campus news. The offended parties were mollified, the work went on without interruption.

#7 Comment By Steve S. On March 2, 2018 @ 3:52 pm

I wonder if Nia Harris knows the name of the custodian who cleans her toilet?

#8 Comment By JonF On March 2, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

Re: You know, would you like some Kool Aid with your sugar? type of thing. Every working class person I know of is totally familiar with this.

As I mentioned above Kool-aid was a staple of my childhood, but my parents bought the pre-sweetened kind and I don’t recall ever adding extra sugar (oh, and Dad was a truck driver which I think puts my childhood squarely in working class territory). Maybe this is a Southern thing, along with sweetened iced tea?

[NFR: Maybe that happens somewhere else, but not where I live, at least not with white working class people. Never heard of ghetto Kool-Aid. — RD]

#9 Comment By Jameson On March 2, 2018 @ 4:40 pm

I’m a bit confused regarding Jones’ comment in which they state that 2 black employees were fired; in the NYT article that was cited, there’s this:

“Ms. Harris was initially told by the dining hall’s head cook that the employees who made up the menu were black. But later, she said on Sunday, she and other students learned from university officials that the Kool-Aid and watermelon water were the work of white employees; black employees were consulted only on the food offerings, not the drinks.

The fired workers — the dining hall’s general manager and head cook — are both white men, she said.”

Hopefully the response to Jones’ commentary is updated accordingly.

#10 Comment By sjb On March 2, 2018 @ 4:55 pm

Watermelon is racist? Gimme a break. Only a dupe would believe that. It’s one of the obligatory foods for a proper Fourth of July and it’s therefore a patriotic food. It’s also the best food on the planet for a sizzling summer afternoon. Best served chilled on your grandmother’s porch. It’s a staple summer food. Similar things can be said of kool-aid, ribs, collards, corn pone, you name it. You’ve got to be real sucker to believe food is racist. Or is it only an intellectual would fall for such glop?

[NFR: To be fair, watermelons really are historically an anti-black racist trope. I never understood that when I was a kid. Everybody loved watermelon, and ate it all the time, so why did people make fun of black people for liking it? — RD]

#11 Comment By AD On March 2, 2018 @ 5:57 pm

Consider for a moment the number of dark skinned cooks who have been fired for trivial offenses because a white person complained (Nia Harris identifies as Black). Uncounted lives have been ruined over the chicken having paprika on it, or the peas being overcooked. My point is, this incident is notable only for its oddness, and as a very isolated example, it may not “prove” the point that the author wishes to make.

[NFR: How do you know this? Assuming it’s true, how would we possibly begin to “consider … the number” when there is no way to determine the number? Seems to me you’re trying to avoid confronting an unpleasant truth. — RD]

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 2, 2018 @ 6:16 pm

To be fair to Nia Harris, she may have had a valid point, if she had thought about what it was that turned her off to the menu, and what she was going to say about it, rather than throwing an emotional hissy fit and posing as The Voice of Black Students. A reasonable statement would have gone something like this:

‘I was born and raised in a northern suburb. My father has a six figure income as an administrative judge. I went to the finest prep schools. My mother never made barbecued ribs, corn bread or collard greens. So why am I being excluded from Black History Month by a menu of stuff I don’t eat and don’t like.’

She might even have acknowledged that millions of black Americans like that food, identify with it as “our food,” and make a point of cooking it during Black History Month. But, having acknowledged that, she could quote Langston Hughes’s “Coffee Break” column from the Jesse B. Semple series in the Amsterdam News to make the point “as if there were not fifty-eleven kinds of Negroes in the USA.”

It was the petty whining narcissism of “this is what it means to be black at NYU” that really kills any respect one might have for her presentation.

Likewise, if Andrew Hamilton had given some thought to making some considered remarks on the tempest in a teapot, instead of issuing boilerplate CYA ‘Not me, I’m not a racist’ PR verbiage, he might have said:

This brings to our attention that there really is no one way to “be black,” and people who try with the best of intentions to provide ‘what those people like’ are bound to offend someone. So, giving the kitchen staff an E for effort, and recognizing that many black families and organizations do organize similar menus in celebration of Black History Month, and at other times for any reason or no reason, we’re going to introduce a streamlined process to ask our students, what would you like on the menu next year for Black History Month? Or should we bother with that particular approach to what began, after all, as an earnest effort to research and publish missing pieces of our history as a nation and a species?

But that would take both thought, effort, and courage, which all seem to be in short supply in academic administration right now.

Note on watermelon: Yes there is a stereotype. No, the stereotype has not stopped Americans of African descent from eating watermelon, nor stopped people who continue to choose to think of themselves as “white” from eating it. Nobody is going to let a mere stereotype keep them from eating something they really enjoy.

I mean, they do, but you’re not allowed to notice it, bigot!

Some do, some don’t. Saying “they’re all like that” is what crosses over into bigotry.

I have often wondered at what point honoring a culture becomes racism.

“No steak for youse! You eat potatoes!” (Huey P. Newton did say “Don’t eat soul food, eat steak. Soul food is what the master left for the slave.”)

The only thing possibly “African” about the African menu were the yams – the rest was Southern cooking – ribs, greens, okra, etc.

Okra… the food and the name… is of African origin.

#13 Comment By sjb On March 2, 2018 @ 6:43 pm

[NFR: To be fair, watermelons really are historically an anti-black racist trope. I never understood that when I was a kid. Everybody loved watermelon, and ate it all the time, so why did people make fun of black people for liking it? — RD]

Thanks. I looked it up via an internet search. Considering how foolish this rubbish is, I think we should reclaim watermelons as an all American food, simply because it is. Watermelon belongs to all of us. Just like hot dogs. There is no reason to let the racists win. Ever. Next thing you know they’re liable to label us Nazi if we love German food. Or is it fascist for loving Italian food? Phlt.

#14 Comment By sjb On March 2, 2018 @ 6:53 pm

P.S. There is no reason why we shouldn’t de-racialize the watermelon and reclaim it for all Americans is there? If the lefties are free to redefine everything, so we should have the same freedoms too.

#15 Comment By KS On March 2, 2018 @ 7:22 pm

What is most bad is that people are somehow ok with the firing if the workers were white but would not be ok if the workers were black. Not good to see the world through such a jaundiced lens.

#16 Comment By carol On March 2, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

The Kool Aid might have been seen as a reference to the massacre in Guyana of some years ago. Members of a religious group, mostly black, drank poisoned Kool Aid when they thought their settlement in the jungle was threatened. I think it was called Jonestown. The expression “Drink (or don’t drink) the Kool Aid” came from it.

#17 Comment By VikingLS On March 2, 2018 @ 8:19 pm

” For all the posturing from conservatives about limousine liberals (who do exist, but are frankly a minority amongst people who *vote* liberal), conservatives have an even deeper contempt for the working class, and nowhere is that attitude better exemplified than their rabid anti-unionism.”

Yeah, I guess you’d have to grasp at straws like that to convince yourself that no matter how bad YOUR bad people are, conservatives are always always the REAL bad guys. Never mind that so many of them ARE working class.

#18 Comment By VikingLS On March 2, 2018 @ 8:25 pm

“Liberals support unions the way Republicans support the pro-life movement.”

Yes, they only brought up unions (and New York is not a state hostile to unions) to remind themselves that they’re always the good guys, and a few liberals getting some working class people fired in a strong union state is somehow the fault of anti-Union Alabama rednecks.

“love me, love me, I’m a liberal!”

#19 Comment By GSW On March 2, 2018 @ 9:17 pm

Thank you for bringing this story to your readers’ attention.

This and the South Africa situation you also recently highlighted are two of the most disheartening stories of the week.

Hitler infamously declared that “all that is not race in this world is trash.”

Who would have guessed that the 21st century would find itself so perversely ‘race’-obsessed as to offer confirmation of his odious, supposedly completely discredited worldview?

#20 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 2, 2018 @ 11:56 pm


Dill is used in certain Indian cuisines, albeit not the ones most familiar to me. (it’s a very common herb in Persian cooking, and Mughal and Awadhi culture were heavily influenced by Persia). I’ve seen dill sold in vegetable markets in the north as well as in stands serving the Indian community in east Africa, so for all I know there are some Indians, somewhere, who cook tandoori meats with a dill sauce.

#21 Comment By LouisM On March 2, 2018 @ 11:58 pm

I, like many in my generation and generations before remember a harder more independent life. If you experienced the depression then you were grateful for all food and having a full belly. In the 1940s men and women signed up for the war effort because they were so hungry and malnourished that they were grateful for having 3 meals a day that the military provided.

The 1950s and 1960s was a transition period but ask any child raised during those years and they will be firmly raised with their parents experiences. It didn’t matter whether it was hot dogs and hamburgers or spaghetti or roast beef, you loved it and you loved your mother and fathers cooking.

At some point, parents stopped raising their kids. If their kids didn’t like cabbage then it wasn’t served. If parents ordered pizza the child would refuse to eat if it wasn’t ordered from their favorite pizzeria. The 1960s boomers where businesses catered to their tastes became parents and raised one of the most ungrateful generations this country has ever seen and every successive generation has gotten more entitled and more ungrateful. If you took a child today and let them experience a pre-1960s world then they could not live in it. These kids would be looked upon as non-team players and mentally ill outsiders incapable of fitting in. All the entitlement and false victimization and moral superiority would be thought of madness. Would not surprise me if they were lobotomized.

As hard as life is for some people, the world is flush with money. Money from China flooding the worlds real estate markets. Stimulus money from the US, Japan and Europe. All this hubris comes from the excesses in a time of plenty. Once there is a threat to our nation like North Korea launching a nuke on LA or SF or Seattle….or an economic collapse of the monetary system then all this SJW, leftist, feminist, anarchist, political correctness etc will all disappear just as similar non-real world ideologies operating in the Soviet Union collapsed with the Soviet Union. Feminism and Atheism collapsed with the Soviet Union. Either these ideologies collapse or the other scenario is far far worse. The other scenario is that these lunatic ideologies become pre-eminent and you see these utopian beliefs become violent and persecutorial and genocidal as they did in Bolshevik Russia, Maoist China, Che Guavera-ism in Cuba, Kmer Rouge-ism in Cambodia. In that case its not the hardship of collapse but the sacrifice of people to ideological genocide.

#22 Comment By galanx On March 3, 2018 @ 1:14 am

I don’t understand- why didn’t the workers complain to their union if they were unjustly fired?
Never mind, I see Aramark is a non-union workplace who has a fire-at-will policy- that’s something students should really be complaining about.

#23 Comment By cka2nd On March 3, 2018 @ 5:00 am

Speaking of NYU and unions, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the three-week strike of clerical and technical workers at NYU represented by Local 3882, NYSUT, AFT, formerly known as the United Staff Association (USA) and now called the the Union of Clerical, Administrative & Technical Staff at NYU (UCATS). Local 3882 has always been self-governing and often been a pain in the side of its state affiliate.

I don’t know when the name of the local was changed from USA to UCATS (maybe its an Internet Age thing, but for years we just used Local 3882 as our moniker), but it wasn’t back when most of the shop stewards and local officers were members of the Workers World Party, Freedom Socialist Party, Communist Party, Socialist Workers Party, New American Movement and Democratic Socialists of America, assorted veterans of the anti-Vietnam War, feminist, civil rights and gay movements, and a Caribbean socialist who later ran for Mayor of New York. That represented a LOT of organizing history and movement knowledge, and helped keep the local democratic, and the leadership on a short leash, for a long time.

Back when the union was organized in the late 70’s, the lowest paid workers qualified for welfare, and some were still on food stamps into the mid-80’s. I had co-workers who couldn’t afford phones. We were an open shop, which meant we were always recruiting new hires to join the union. Personally, I think it kept us on our toes, but the members genuinely resented the free riding non-members, even if they were their friends or co-workers. I heard they finally won an agency shop fee back in the 90’s or 00’s.

I’ve got some great memories of the strike: shouting “Dick! Negotiate, Dick!” at NYU’s head of labor relations when he walked in to work every morning, calling the university’s VP for Human Resources a “Scab Mother” in front of her and her kids (“You’re teaching your children to scab!”), picketing to Janet Jackson and James Brown tapes played low, a faculty support picket literally 10 times bigger than its organizers thought it would be, the few caps and gowns they’d rented shared out among the crowd. But NYU was a truly wretched place to work, overall, which is why I spit (“Ptui! Ptui!”) whenever I say its name or initials in person.

Food services, as far as I know, have been contracted out since at least the 70’s. There have been on-going efforts around the country to organize campus food service workers, alongside efforts to unionize the new academic proletariat, the graduate, teaching and research assistants (NYU was an un-willing pioneer in the latter). The Board of Trustees has a large real estate industry component, which is why, I think, it’s embarked on a financially reckless multi-year, multi-billion dollar effort (the Sexton Plan, named for Hamilton’s predecessor) to tear up even more of its surrounding neighborhood than it already has. Now that my favorite professor has died, there really are only a few special library collections that I’d mourn if Washington Square Park were to open up and suck NYU down into the pits of Hell.

#24 Comment By Mark James On March 3, 2018 @ 11:56 am

I love Collar Greens if its cooked with bacon. love corn bread, black-eyed peas, and ham-hocks. I like barbecued ribs too. I don’t like cool-aid even as a kid. I don’t like Watermelon unless its seedless. And the above is called Oakie food. Although, some might say soul food. Either way its great food…

#25 Comment By La Lubu On March 3, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

…no matter how bad YOUR bad people are, conservatives are always always the REAL bad guys.

VikingLS, rich liberals aren’t “my people”. I have nothing in common with them. They don’t work on my jobsites. They don’t live in my neighborhood. They don’t send their kids to the same public schools my kid attends. Except for the largest public offices, we don’t live in the same voting districts. We don’t have the same interests in our free time. To put it bluntly, they are a foreign country.

Mostly, I think of rich liberals as being strikingly similar to rich conservatives: mostly antagonistic to working class people. The difference is rich conservatives tend to be more hostile to my interests, as most of them are also antagonistic to women’s equality and antagonistic to non-Christians, in addition to being virulently anti-labor.

I am under no illusions in regard to the (at best) benign neglect towards “my people” (working class, rust belt people—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion/no religion, sexuality) from the Democratic party. But I am also under no illusions in regard to the more active hostility from the other side.

#26 Comment By grumpy realist On March 3, 2018 @ 1:57 pm

I think the real scandal is that two people got fired over this. Ok, it was a silly menu based off stereotypes (why didn’t they call it “Southern cookery” instead?) but hey, there’s no indication that it made anyone sick or wasn’t up to standard.(Which I would consider much more of a firing offense.)

So the catering service decided it was easier to just fire the two somewhat-clueless people who came up with this rather than actually deal with the problem. And the university won’t say anything because hey, the complaints went away.


(I’m grumpy enough to think the food service should be serving cold pease porridge, over-cooked spinach, and water for the next several weeks as the only choice of food on the menu. That will teach students not to complain about college food.)

#27 Comment By Benjamin Cross On March 3, 2018 @ 2:16 pm

Hi Rod,

Responding to your question about Kool-Aid:

This is probably more regional than the watermelon trope, but where I grew up (Philadelphia suburbs) Kool-Aid is definitely a racist trope. It’s this way because the majority of white people are upper-middle class and the majority of blacks are poor. The white kids did not drink Kool-Aid. It’s connected to the the idea that blacks like grape drinks of all kinds. Or that they dye their hair with it. Basically, there’s this association that black people like Kool-Aid because it’s cheap and because they like basic flavors in the same way that children do. Again, other parts of the country might not look at it that way, but I think a lot of people with an upbringing around here (or in NYC) would have a similar perspective

[NFR: How unusual. It has none of those connotations in my part of the country. Anyway, Nia Harris is from Chicago. Do they think that about Kool-Aid there? — RD]

#28 Comment By Robert EV On March 3, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

I like what Siarlys Jenkins wrote. 19 year olds are, however, only 19 years olds.

In addition, if this food is eaten by the more numerous white Southerners, why is it considered ‘black’, and why is it served in ‘honor’ of Black History Month?

I suppose it makes sense in a “our slave ancestors were too poor to eat anything else, so we eat this in honor of them” sense. But if so it’s still important to recognize that the Northern slaves would have eaten other food.

It might have been a better idea if Aramark had just furnished Black History placemats or somesuch.

[NFR: It would be a brilliant idea if cafeterias would simply serve food and leave the multiculti crap out of it. It would be the most brilliant idea of all if college administrators would tell these students to grow the eff up, and if they cannot psychologically handle being faced with cafeteria food that offends their cultural politics, then they should go back to kindergarten and start over. — RD]

#29 Comment By Ken’ichi On March 3, 2018 @ 5:08 pm


To me the liberal elite will have their come uppance.

How? From where can it come? Who can hope to match the strength of liberal elite?

You can get away with being richer than your fellow man. But you cannot get away with adding insult to injury.

Looking at history, particularly Chinese, plenty aristocrats “got away” with “adding insult to injury” when injured were powerless peasants.


This is outrageous. When will this nonsense end?

When your current ruling elites are overthrown and destroyed. Which none within West have power to do themselves. Otherwise, will never end.


They have made it personal and the blowback has only begun.

What “blowback”? Any “blowback” will go nowhere, as elites behind this are too powerful for any “blowback” to ever hope to defeat.

>>Giuseppe Scalas

That’s what liberal college education is about: teaching the masters’ heirs that common people are just meat waiting to be ground at their whim.

A very good lesson, because indeed what common masses are. A samurai may cut down a peasant “at their whim.” Elites may do as they please, and the powerless commoners can only endure, and such is and always will be lot in life. That is how World is, always was, and always will be.

#30 Comment By cka2nd On March 3, 2018 @ 6:26 pm

La Lubu says: “I am under no illusions in regard to the (at best) benign neglect towards ‘my people’ (working class, rust belt people—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion/no religion, sexuality) from the Democratic party. But I am also under no illusions in regard to the more active hostility from the other side.”

My guess is that this speaks for a good chunk of the non-voting electorate of color and a smaller number of non-voting whites.

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 3, 2018 @ 9:40 pm

In the midwest, most “white” kids grew up drinking Kool-Aid. To me it was a special treat when I went to friends’ homes, because my mother didn’t believe in serving all that sugar, she served cranberry juice and grape juice. I found this to be true in Chicago suburbs as well as in east central Wisconsin cities. Oh, and I also remember my mom commenting on how the black kids from the Woodlawn area who were coming out to our suburban church for summer programs complimented the typical suburban picnic fare for being “great soul food.” This stuff literally has no center to it.

Mostly, I think of rich liberals as being strikingly similar to rich conservatives: mostly antagonistic to working class people. The difference is rich conservatives tend to be more hostile to my interests, as most of them are also antagonistic to women’s equality and antagonistic to non-Christians, in addition to being virulently anti-labor.

The Plain Truth. But I’m always happy to listen to “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.” A great American classic. “In America you have various shades of political opinion… one of the shadiest of these is the liberals. Ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally…”

#32 Comment By Robert EV On March 4, 2018 @ 12:28 am

[NFR: It would be a brilliant idea if cafeterias would simply serve food and leave the multiculti crap out of it. {…} — RD]

Eh, genuinely educational multicultural “crap” is still genuinely educational. Multi-cultural placemats for all!

#33 Comment By JonF On March 4, 2018 @ 7:21 am

Re: When your current ruling elites are overthrown and destroyed. Which none within West have power to do themselves.

The elite will overreach and destroy themselves (and alas, much else besides). The East knows the concept of karma, and the ancient Greeks warned us about hubris. Unjust rulers tend to get their comeuppance even if it may be a while in coming. You mention Chinese dynasties, but the Chinese also knew that a dynasty could lose the mandate of Heaven whereupon it became a case study in the old old Greek maxim (from Sophokles I think) “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”

Re: Any “blowback” will go nowhere, as elites behind this are too powerful for any “blowback” to ever hope to defeat.

Powerful or not there are things more powerful than they, and they have not conquered death, though they may play with it as some cultist churches play with venemous snakes. And so the pauper and the plutocrat will be carried out to the pit together.

#34 Comment By connecticut farmer On March 4, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

“Kool-Aid” eh? Hmm…can’t help noticing a bit of irony there.

#35 Comment By drahthaar On March 4, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

I grew up in California, calling this “Okie food” too. I love it. Chicken fried steak. Buttermilk. Creamed corn. Nia Harris is another ghastly injustice artist. The groveling NYU president is worse.

#36 Comment By Donald On March 4, 2018 @ 2:05 pm

“Yes, they only brought up unions (and New York is not a state hostile to unions) to remind themselves that they’re always the good guys,”

I am a little late getting here, but this is not true in my case. I think the liberals are the villains here, but the problem is that the affluent liberals were able to fire two working stiffs in order to display their own virtue. What is the practical solution? Well, stronger unions and more protection for workers.

Are Republicans the good guys here? No. That doesn’t mean I think Democrats are good. The neoliberals in the Democratic Party threw working people under the bus decades ago.

#37 Comment By Cash On March 5, 2018 @ 12:07 am

In my experience, the only adults who drink Kool-aid are Blacks.

#38 Comment By sherparick On March 5, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

If you read the specific article, the two item she objected to was “watermelon flavored Kool-Aid,” which still has an echo to the Jonestown massacre where Jim Jones, the white leader had his majority black followers drink cynanide loaded “watermelon flavored” Kool-aid a mass murder/suicide that killed several hundred people.

Second, according to the NYT article, the two employees fired by the contractor (Private Industry!!!) providing food service were General Manager and Head Cook who put the “Kool-aid” item on the menu. Both being white and both being managers, not workers.

Just want to be accurate in our rant.

#39 Comment By Positivethinker On March 21, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

…”What is most bad is that people are somehow ok with the firing if the workers were white but would not be ok if the workers were black. Not good to see the world through such a jaundiced lens.”

Who are you kidding? Of course that’s the way it is in SJW world!