Foodie Pseudery (19)
When I began this series, I decided not to include examples drawn from blogs, even though they frequently provide absolute gems of foodie pseudery. My reasoning was – and is – that that editors and publishers of newspapers, magazines, and books should know better than to print pseudery. Bloggers tend not to have that kind of guidance.
I’ve changed my mind here – and this post isn’t really foodie pseudery either, strictly defined. I’ve included it because of its staggering insensitivity. Truly, this is what gives food writing a bad name.
The post is an attempt to link the Kony 2012 campaign to a recipe for coffee-flavoured macaroons. I don’t protest at the author’s decision to write about something topical – not at all – but, rather, at the post’s stunning ignorance about the campaign, Uganda, and, indeed, Africa – as well as at the astonishingly poor taste in trying, somehow, to promote a recipe for macaroons by linking it to a campaign (however wrongheaded) against a warlord:
There are plenty of critics regarding Kony 2012. They say that the problems in Uganda, in Africa are more complex than stopping this one man. I agree. However, Kony 2012 will bring more attention to a region of the world that needs more attention. Even though I don’t understand the dynamics of Africa I do know that shining the spotlight on one vile war criminal will hopefully bring attention to problems that led to the rise of a beast that has terrorized a region for the last 30 years.
Having said that and since we are a food blog, let’s talk about Ugandan coffee. Coffees from politically unstable regions, especially East Africa and Uganda make us wonder about the ethical implications of buying that coffee. But, at the end of the day coffee is a cash crop and hundreds of thousands of small farms exist in Uganda. Over 2 million people rely on coffee to make a living.
In the age of Google, there is no excuse – none whatsoever – for ignorance of this level.
This is a comment from the authors of the post:
Dear Sarah Duff:
Please refrain from using our text in your blog. In all fairness, if you were going to lift our text, you should have taken all of it so that your readers would have a full appreciation of the context of the post. Mass media likes to take snippets to suit their purpose and it seems you have done the same. You used a snippet without giving the whole story. While your interpretation of our intentions is wildly askew, you are entitled to your opinion. We are also entitled to our opinion.
My son and his soccer buddies (all from various countries in Africa) read your post. They were shocked by your unpleasant tone and insensitivity. Clearly you missed the point of the post, which is interesting to me since the young men who actually lived in Africa got the intent and were quite pleased with it. As far as I’m concerned their opinions are the only ones that matter to me. And, the only reason I am taking the time to write this email is to relay a message from my son’s friends:
“Please Stop judging other people.”
Please feel free to post my reply IN ITS ENTIRETY.
Camille & Son (Son’s Friends)
Marie & The MyFudo Team
And this is my response:
Hi Camille, Marie, and boys
Thanks for your response. As you saw, I linked to the whole post, so readers could read it in its entirety. In fact, I think that I chose the most considered part of your post to link to. I can only reiterate what I wrote in my post: I think it is stunningly insensitive to connect a post about macaroons to a truly terrible campaign about child soldiers. If you haven’t read any of the criticism of the campaign, perhaps you would like to begin here:
In fact, Alex de Waal argues that Kony 2012 is actually making the problem worse: http://africanarguments.org/2012/03/15/kony-what%E2%80%99s-to-be-done-alex-de-waal/
And I should add that many Africans – including myself – are appalled by this campaign: http://www.boingboing.net/2012/03/08/african-voices-respond-to-hype.html
As you can see, the internet is awash with information about this campaign, about Uganda, and indeed Africa. In an age when information is so readily available, there is no excuse for ignorance.
By ‘judging’ and disagreeing we are able to think and consider the world around us more effectively. Thinking critically allows us to understand the world we live in greater depth and complexity – and permits us to respond sympathetically and senstively to the problems of others.
One more link – which relates to Ugandans’ response to the campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbBtt2h5HGo&feature=related