A mashup discussion on chocolate preferences, bullet holes and a boozy sandwich shop known as Summerhill
Hi, folks! In this issue, Yako is away on vacation enjoying some lovely family time, so I'll be writing for both of us.
Anyway, I'm sitting at home one evening minding my very own business, and a text comes in from Yako that reads: "Title for next column: I like chocolate cakes, but no chocolate pudding. Lol."
Of course, this causes me to chuckle, but it didn't take us long to come up with a subject matter for it. When you have eyes and ears for the connections within your chosen environment, you easily see the parallelism between things like chocolate pudding and the audacities of gentrification. I'd like to state that this will be our last article dealing with race for a while, since there are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to issues that our society needs to address (like homophobia, transgender rights, and political issues)--and quite honestly, it's exhausting to talk about the same institutionalized subject repeatedly with no clear resolve in sight.
But for now, we must address what's recently taken place at a little spot called Summerhill. In case you aren't aware (I wasn't aware until after the media coverage), Summerhill is a "boozy sandwich shop" located in Crown Heights that's had some pretty controversial attention brought to its establishment lately due to the exposure of their less-than-tasteful--hell, distasteful-ass advertisements: 40 ounce bottles of Rosé served in brown paper bags; and the misleading perk of "bullet holes" lining the walls of their venue--as if these are boast-worthy splashes of décor.
So, when I discovered this latest form of shameless race-raping, I couldn't help but think of a way to tie it into the preference of chocolate cakes over chocolate pudding. Yes, to the naked eye, this comparison is a ridiculous mashup. But to me, everything is everything on the surface, it is the rules that we create to define things that cause them to share commonalities and disparities. In this case, the common factor is the liberties we take in separating something from its origin so that it works for our desired use. Take chocolate.
It can be presented in tons of ways: candy, face masks, cakes, puddings, fake blood, sculptures, etc. It could be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on which side of depression you're standing (or slumping). Nevertheless, it is one thing, and only becomes a problem or solution when put into context. For the record, I'm not a huge cake person, but I do enjoy it. I do not, however, enjoy chocolate pudding by itself--only if it's with cake.
I'm saying this because I have actually purchased and enjoyed Rosé in a 40 ounce bottle. It was in the comfort of my own home, after witnessing a minority friend of mine present it at a gathering. When I laid eyes on it, I thought it was funny in a tongue-in-cheek way. At the time, it didn't really dawn on me that it was a borderline bad idea. I bought it as an homage to the Old English days of my 20s and my present-day obsession with Rosé.
That being said, when I read about the events and protests transpiring at Summerhill, it made me think about how one thing can be something totally different depending on who uses it and where. It also made me feel partially responsible for playing a part in gentrification. Overall, it made me sad and hurt to have such a complex attachment to an inanimate object. It's just wine, right?
But back to chocolate. When it comes to cakes and pudding, they are made of the same core ingredient (sometimes), yet are two very different things in terms of legit chocolate and imitation chocolate--as are 40 ounces of Rosé being consumed by me and my black bestie versus them being consumed by white people in a pretentious, out-of-touch café that wreaks of culture thievery for monetary gain.
Do you see how one can be amused and disgusted by the same damn thing? I'm being extra, right? It could be said that I'm just pissed because white people are enjoying themselves in a place where people of my culture couldn't keep up their neighborhood, and that I'm just jealous and overreacting because it's just Rosé and it's just a joke about the bullet holes.
After all, the staff is friendly and the cocktails hit the spot during a laptop-lounge in the middle of a frucking weekday. No. Let's now address the "bullet holes." Picture me as a child in the infamous Brewster Projects where my mother grew up, sitting on a concrete porch nicked with bullets, some of which have actually taken the lives of little boys and little girls, young men and young women; and then picture white people sitting around in a renovated, sandwich shop within an urban neighborhood, with fake bullet holes preserved for the sake of attraction, in order for more white people to come through and spend their money so that more flavors of trendy wine can be added to the menu. One is a bittersweet chocolate cake and the other is a rubbery, artificially flavored chocolate vanilla swirl fraud.
They are two very different things possessing the same source. In this case, the commonality is inequality.
I hate to end on such a bleak note, but we need to confront and call out the problems that are arising from gentrification. This particular one is sickening to me due to its blatant audacity and cowardly responses. Trust me, I've seen this situation defended on Yelp by my new neighbors...it's a real war, people are really desensitized to the offensiveness of this. I'm not sure about you, but for me, when it comes to the seriousness of cultures being respected, of lives being respected, the proof is in the pudding and we need to stop allowing people to identify that pudding as chocolate cake. If you are interested in supporting the efforts in businesses doing their part in the neighborhoods in which they reside, please do your own research and get involved. We owe it to those who house actual bullet holes on their chocolate bodies and to those who've been arrested and/or assaulted for drinking malt liquor out of paper bags in the same neighborhoods where it is now glorified and downplayed.