The Presidents' kitchen #Cabinet

That’s the title of a new book covering presidential dining via the records and reminiscences of the blacks working in the White House kitchen, through the last administration.



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Do the emojis suggest confusion as to the subject matter of the book, or that “blacks” is defamatory? On the author’s own website, his description of the book uses black and African American interchangeably when identifying the race of the kitchen staffers.

When I was a child, the word “Negro” was a noun or adjective used without implying negativity, but “black” was tinged with insult. By the time I was in college, civil rights activists were popularizing it, and somehow Negro took on a negative vibe. At first it felt really wrong to refer to people as black(s), but I adjusted. Then came African-American. It seemed silly, to me, to use 7 syllables instead of one, especially since black was, and is, still in current use, without taint. It is also more specific. I used to know a Caucasian couple who grew up in South Africa and lived most of their lives in New England. Their children could have described themselves as African-American, which would have been both accurate and foolish. As is referring to British actor Idris Elba as African-American, which has been done.
No insult to any person or race was intended.

Thank you for that discourse.

  1. The comment is on the noun. Yes, ‘the blacks’ definitely dates you.

  2. If you are having trouble with ways to express this, simply go back to the site you linked to. To refer to a legacy of African American chefs (rather than ‘the blacks’ seems reasonable for an American history. Although black chefs, black contributors, etc…

  3. It’s lovely that you wish to disrupt the centrality of the American and yet ironic that in doing so you presume that everyone you speak to is American. Black is fine here in the U.K., although there have also been debates and discussions.

  4. It is an ongoing discussion, yes, and I understand how hard it must be to keep up with shifts over the decades of your experience. But yes, I’d say tha at this moment, ’
    The noun usage you deploy has gone out of favour. More than that, it is (unintentionally) dismissive, as you refer ‘the blacks’ as opposed to perhaps an as yet untold history of Black Americans or African American (in the case of this story and the author’s own description) culinary contributions.

Now, I wouldn’t have written all that, but you seemed to be asking for the thoughts that were coming.,

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