by David Sisler
Look at my photograph. Granted, it is a little old, in fact, it is the same one that was here when I started writing this column eight years ago. To be honest, I have a little less hair and I can no longer button the coat I was wearing in that picture, but basically, nothing else has changed.
Okay, you have looked at the picture. Now for a shocker. I love fried chicken.
I was raised on fried chicken. We ate more fried chicken for Sunday dinner at 117 Shenandoah Avenue in Loch Lynn, Maryland than any other meat. For one stretch of two years, we had fried chicken every Sunday. On Saturdays, Mom would put her grocery list together, call Martin's store and order in our larder for the coming week. They actually delivered.
Mom would look at Dad and say, "Darling, what do you want for Sunday dinner."
For 104 Sundays in a row Dad said, "I don't care," and we had fried chicken. Great fried chicken and great pan gravy. My brother, Kyle, and I would reach for the "butter bunch" in the mashed potatoes at the same time.
Saturday Number 105, Dad said, "I don't care. As long as it is not chicken."
Nevertheless, I love fried chicken.
For seventeen years I was a pastor. The stereotype is true: church members feed their pastor fried chicken (occasionally, they would like to feed him to the chickens, but that's for another column). I ate with my people every chance I could (you can do some of your best ministry around the dinner table), and six times out of ten, we ate fried chicken. Bernice Jackson in Lugoff, South Carolina, and Shirley Rogers, in Aiken, South Carolina make the world's absolute best fried chicken. If Col. Harland Sanders had tasted their chicken, he would have been so ashamed of his eleven secret herbs and spices that he would never have opened his first restaurant.
I love fried chicken. I had to be taught that it was racist to eat fried chicken.
I like collard greens. Turnip greens are better, but still, I like collard greens. And I had to be taught that it was racist to eat turnip greens.
I love fried chicken. I like collard greens. And I am not a racist.
I was walking through the Augusta Mall parking lot a few nights ago when I heard a voice behind me — and I could not determine the race of the speaker by the sound of his voice — say, "Hey, Nigger! Where are you going?"
I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around. Four young black men were laughing, greeting each other, and having sport with one another. Should I tell you again, at this point, I love fried chicken?
I saw the new movie, Volcano, the second day of its release. I am going tell you how it ends. But I will not give anything away. If you have not seen it yet, trust me on this one.
A fireman, an African-American, is holding Tommy, a four-year-old white boy. They are looking for Tommy's mother.
"What does your mother look like?" the fireman asks.
Tommy says, "She looks like..." and pauses.
The camera pans a crowd, and everyone looks the same. They are all covered with volcanic ash. Everyone's face, regardless of their racial type, is gray. They all look the same.
The movie folks are telling us, that in a disaster, skin color does not matter. We should have learned that lesson a long time ago, and not just in a time of disaster.
Maybe K-Mart was ready to fire Fuzzy Zoeller anyway. Maybe he meant his "fried chicken and collard greens" remark to be mean and ugly and got caught with his pants down. Maybe he was telling the truth and he absolutely meant nothing by it. Maybe some will always disbelieve him no matter what his motivation was. Maybe it is time we stop the insensitivity and the stupidity and begin to treat each other as human beings. Maybe it is time we stopped looking for racists under every piece of fried chicken.
God made each of us different. It was He who created the racial types — we created the racial stereotypes, the slurs, the nicknames, the bigoted ethic jokes. To Him we all look the same on the outside and the inside. We are all sinners. We all need a Savior. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus, His only Son, to be born to a Jewish teenager, and to die on a Roman cross — so that whosoever will can be saved.
Fried chicken can never compare with that!
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 5/3/97
Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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