Since the authors of f-bomb-friendly vegan cookbook Thug Kitchen revealed themselves to be a white couple from Hollywood, a firestorm of controversy has brewed around the possible racist implications of the book's title.
The general tone of the cookbook is meant to be humorous, perhaps as a reaction to the earnestness of many vegan tomes example: the text above a recipe for vegan pina colada ice cream reads, "Starting to feel like ninety one thousand damn degrees outside? We got you. Chill the fuck out with a big ass cup of this tropical treat. All you need are five fucking ingredients and a blender." Also, the subtitle: "Eat like you give a fuck."
The uproar, along with threats of protests at a pair of Bay Area publicity appearances at Diesel Books in Oakland and Omnivore Books in Noe Valley, have led to the cancellation of both events by the book's authors, Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, as SF Weekly reports.
The couple explained their reasoning for skipping their Bay Area stops in a statement on their website:
We love you and we think you're amazing (Michelle's from there!). We were looking forward to meeting all of you and having a real fucking conversation. But there are some who are looking to disrupt the event and create problems for these great local, small businesses--who were kind enough to partner with us on the launch so we're holding off on our visit for now. Until we get our asses back up there, we'll see you guys at our other stops!
While their website says the events have only been postponed and not cancelled altogether, it will be interesting to see if the anger of the groups leading the protests will cool with time. Many have taken issue with the use of the word "thug", especially by a white vegan couple.
The brouhaha has left book stores in an awkward position. On one hand, booksellers are usually some of the first to trumpet the rights of free speech. On the other, they are trying to sell books and don't necessarily want to alienate their customers.
Diesel books waded into the fray, posting an extensive explanation to their Facebook page saying, "The previously anonymous L.A. duo who created Thug Kitchen were booked for an event at our store well in advance of their surprise revelation, and believe us, we were surprised too. (Well, truth be told, some more than others.)"
They go on to encourage a dialogue around the issue:
DIESEL, A Bookstore believes in freedom of expression, and the authors of this cookbook have chosen their method of expression. Does the fact of their being white change their message? Is their language insultingly appropriated or just language many people use? Are you offended or do you think the humor is okay? We don't have the final answer to these questions, though lately we've been talking about them with one another plenty. We invite you to come and have your say.
It doesn't look like that conversation will be happening in the Bay Area anytime soon, however, at least not with the book's authors present, as they haven't announced any plans to return. We're guessing their next appearance in Portland on Oct. 16, home to at least a progressive vegan or two, will likely draw some heat as well.