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‘Thug Kitchen’ Cooks Up Controversy

When I first came across Thug Kitchen on my Facebook newsfeed, I was intrigued. As a wannabe foodie who currently pins more recipes on Pinterest than she makes, I was curious about their healthy offerings, such as Quinoa Oatmeal, Sweet Potato Loaf and Winter Vegetable Stir Fry.

I’d planned to review the cookbook when it came out earlier this month and even try a few of their recipes. But not anymore and it looks like I’m not the only one. Here’s why you shouldn’t buy into their ridiculousness either:

One would (inaccurately) assume that the folks behind Thug Kitchen must be, well, reformed thugs.  Thugs with culinary skill, of course.

Well, you know what they say about assuming–it makes an ass out of you and me. To be fair, our Digital Editorial director Kyra Kyles pointed out it was too good to be true due to their over-the-top profanity and gangster posturing, and lo and behold, she was right, as she usually is with these sort of things.

So when she sent me an article from Epicurious about the Thug Kitchen creators, I saw for my own two eyes that they weren’t thugs at all, but rather granola-crunching hipsters.

Well. I. Be. Damned.

Basically, Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway have made a living using Black slang and stereotypes to market their popular vegan food blog and new cookbook. But why?

Isn’t healthy eating trendy enough as it is? Why pose as something/someone you’re not just to make a profit? I mean, Gywneth Paltrow, she of GOOP, is a fan … what more do you need?!

Unfortunately, Davis and Holloway are not the first to enjoy mainstream success because of our culture (Hi, Iggy Azalea!) and I can assure you they won’t be the last.

But I would have been just as interested in their pumpkin chili recipe and their roasted beer-and-lime cauliflower tacos without the overt profanity. Why not just let your work speak for itself? There’s no need to use a Wu-Tang translator to blog.

I can only hope that Davis and Holloway are donating a portion of their proceeds to a charitable organization that benefits inner city youth–to help prevent those kids from turning to the actual, factual streets.

But when your paycheck is dependent on cultural misappropriation, that is likely asking too much.