The C.O.W.S. THE DELECTABLE NEGRO Part 3

Friday, February 10th 8:00PM Eastern/ 5:00PM Pacific

The Context of White Supremacy hosts the third study session on Vincent Woodard’s The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture. Mr. Woodard died in 2008, but this volume was posthumously published in 2014.  NYU Press explains the void this book aims to fill; “Scholars of US and transatlantic slavery have largely ignored or dismissed accusations that Black Americans were cannibalized.” Woodard excavates primary sources, like the memoirs of Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass, as well as black newspapers and slave advertisements from the antebellum period. Last week’s session provided a comprehensive re-examination of how black bodies were literally and figuratively consumed by Whites during slavery. In one of the most profound passages of the text, Woodard writes: “Elaborating on the culinary connotations of the word “seasoning” (season: “to heighten or improve the  avor of food by adding condiments, spices, herbs, or the like”), I link the physically brutal culture of seasoning to the parallel development of erotic appetites, tastes, and aesthetic longings for the black male. This broader understanding of seasoning is important, as it helps explain how institutional processes, such as Christian indoctrination, male fraternal love and bonding, and the acquisition of literacy facilitated the social consumption of the Negro and the creation of a high cultural premium upon African flesh.” Many themes explored in this book, are staple elements of White culture, visible in the 21st century – like convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer or the delicious “black man cookies“.

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