Cornmeal, Flamin’ Hot seasoning, cheddar cheese and onion powder. That’s what the Mahoney-Pearson dining hall reduced black culture to during their Black History Month celebration.
Despite black people’s full, complex and rich history, from our food to our dances and art, the dining hall at the prestigious University of Miami still decided to serve Hot Cheetos (with a side of mac and cheese, because apparently those two things go together) and deemed it a suitable black history event.
This is not an episode of a Netflix original. I am not trying to be some enigmatic black-Radio-Rebel vigilante, but what the f*ck?
I am not angry with the workers, more so disappointed. As I sat and listened to the black workers justify why they were serving me Hot Cheetos with mac and cheese, I felt transported into the world of “Get Out.”
Also, unless I’m not up to date on my pop culture, when did Hot Cheetos become exclusively black? I’ve seen a significant number of people of all races munching on some Cheetos. In fact, the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto is Latinx in origin. They were created by Richard Montañez, once a janitor and the son of a Mexican immigrant who dropped out of school because he struggled with English. Montañez is now a marketing executive at PepsiCo, with a net worth of $14.3 million. The Hot Cheeto’s creation was a monumental moment in Latinx history that we, as black people, don’t deserve the credit for. Don’t give black people credit due to Latinx people.
On the same token, don’t take our history from us. Don’t smudge it, don’t misinterpret it and don’t erase it. We shouldn’t let this slide under the rug; a Google search of “black people foods” would have done us better than Cheetos. The choice to put a side dish and a snack together evoked feelings of minimization in me. Not only was the food not representative of my culture as an African-American, it read as if they took three seconds to dump a bag of chips in a metal bowl and then called it a day. Is that what my culture is worth? A bag of chips I can buy in the vending machine with five quarters? They couldn’t even buy the nice, boujee, puffed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?
Do better, University of Miami. Y’all can’t be messin’ up like this— not during Black History Month, but still not ever.
Julian Crosby is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and international studies.