Leave it to the Washington Post to pioneer coverage of what may be the next great civil rights struggle. Food reporter Tim Carman has uncovered the white supremacy inherent in supermarket organization. According to food influencer David Chang (yeah, that’s a thing, I guess) “the ethnic food aisle, that is sort of the last bastion of racism that you can see in full daylight in retail America.”
Come on now, you know what he’s talking about. Picture the ethnic food aisle of your local Giant Food Way Lion. It’s not like the rest of the bright, clean, well-ordered aisles, is it? It’s a dark, chaotic ghetto glowering among the gleaming streets of the grocery metropolis. It’s thronged with old women selling plucked geese and one eyed men betting on cock fights. A place polite people don’t mention at the dinner table.
No? Okay, maybe that’s just my local supermarket. Anyway, David Chang, who influences food, thinks you probably think about it like that. And Tim Carman, who writes about food, says that “to others, especially children of immigrants who may already feel pushed to the margins of the American mainstream, the supermarket can be just another place to experience the sting of their outsider status.”
Man, the children of immigrants are some fragile little cupcakes.
The sting occurs whenever they walk down the “ethnic” food aisle, the section of the supermarket that, to some, plays out like a remnant of the Jim Crow era, when laws established separate facilities for African Americans in the post-Reconstruction South.
“It is something that’s got to go,” Chang says of the ethnic food aisle. (Chang may want to rethink that. “Separate but Equal” is all the rage on college campuses. Who’s to say “ethnic student centers” and “ethnic-only graduation ceremonies” won’t be next.)
“To Chang’s way of thinking, these aisles continue to exist because nobody wants to talk about them,” Carman says, “which was certainly true about the publicists I contacted for this story. Representatives of Whole Foods Market, Giant Food, Kroger, Albertsons (which includes Safeway stores) and Harris Teeter either declined to comment or did not return multiple phone calls for comment.”