Touré describes an occasion when he was the only black adult among seven people at a party in Brooklyn. Everything was fine until the hostess brought out watermelon slices as dessert. “For her a refreshing fruit,” Touré writes, but he was horrified. He connected watermelon slices with “images of happy darkies.” His parents taught him never to eat watermelon in front of whites, “lest I confirm ancient stereotypes.”
To write his book, Touré consulted scores of leading blacks on delicate questions, including, “Would you be comfortable eating watermelon in a room full of white people?”
Astonishingly, this turnedout to be one ordeal that the Reverend Jesse Jackson couldn’t face: “Eating watermelon in public?” he said. “We’re not that free.”
Fried chicken presents a similar dilemma.