Last semester, Hasan Minhaj, comedian and correspondent on the Daily Show, visited my school and gave an empowering talk on racism and bigotry in America, intertwining personal anecdotes and stories of his friends and family.
“I work near Fox News, so when it’s time for lunch, I’ll usually see some people walking by. Megyn Kelly, Billy O’Reilly…all these people. You know, after their bits about Muslims being allowed in the US, and I see them head STRAIGHT FOR HALAL GUYS. It blows my mind every time.”
How is it that people can hate a group of people– hate seeing them, hate their beliefs, hate that they exist– but they still have the audacity to enjoy some parts of their culture. You can’t just pick and choose which parts of Islam you’re okay with and then just happen to hate on the rest of the religion.
When you think about it, America is one of the few countries that lacks any real cultural differentiation. We have no food or tradition or clothing that is representative of our history. We instead offer Tex-Mex, an American twist on Mexican food, or General Tso’s Chicken, a cult-favorite Chinese dish that originated in America. The food we serve is not ours. We cannot claim it to be ours, because it was influenced by other cultures.
If food has a way of mingling comfortably with other cultures to create a killer dish, why do we as humans find it hard to do so? Why are we so ignorant to the intersections of different cultures but continue to find ways to shed negative light and energy on things we don’t agree with? How can you hate Mexicans while you continue to munch on your torta?
Some might say it’s possible to dislike a group of people but still be fond of their culture and food. But I think that’s ridiculous. And hypocritical. Almost like your entire life is an oxymoron.