Franklin, we need to talk

Published 10:07 am Friday, August 15, 2014

When I read the comments on the Franklin National Night Out story, I admit that I was disgusted.

When I think of fried chicken, race is the furthest thing from my mind. I think of breaded chicken, hopefully with a little bit of spice, that tastes good. It’s also one of my favorite foods, but unfortunately I can’t eat it as much as I used to because of all of the heavy grease.

Yet, people want to make fried chicken a bad thing. How can a story about police and a neighborhood getting together, and yes, eating fried chicken, be anything unpleasant?

The headline was “Neighborhood residents, police and fried chicken.” It was not meant in a disrespectful light whatsoever, it was simply meant to imply that a neighborhood was getting together with the police department to enjoy some food and fellowship.

Stereotypes like that only have power if you give them power. Quite simply, there’s nothing about fried chicken that says it should be a racial thing, or even something negative at all, unless you are talking about potential health issues.

Southerners as a whole enjoy fried chicken. I’ve seen all races enjoy it right here in Franklin.

I’ve seen TV shows on the Food Network that feature fried chicken. They show people of all races eating fried chicken. Should they be boycotted if they are showing anything other than white people?

To pull back the veil on the decision-making process, we were trying to think of something different to say since we had two National Night Out stories on the same page. It could have easily said pizza instead of fried chicken. But it didn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with what it did say, racially.

Moving to Virginia from Mississippi, I was honestly hoping that the issue wouldn’t be as prevalent because there is nothing that disgusts me more. I’ve distanced myself from family members because of this very issue.

Now, it’s not as bad here, but in one way, it is. In Mississippi it is out in the open and people are discussing it. And by something as simple as discussing it, I’ve seen it get a lot better in my lifetime.

Led in part by former Gov. William Winter and his institute, communities that were majority black but had all white leadership have come together, discussed it, laid their cards on the table, and now have more equal local representation thanks to a more fair system. I’ve seen communities that couldn’t get anything done at the leadership level because of racial distrust come together and move forward.

I’ve seen towns such as Philadelphia, Mississippi, where the past was scarred by the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, come together and learn to trust one another enough to elect its first black mayor in 2009. It took three more years for that to happen in Franklin.

In Franklin, we don’t talk about it. In Franklin, if someone talks about something as unassuming as fried chicken, it should be censored. Instead, I think we should talk about it in Franklin.

We need to learn to love or at least appreciate one another for who we are, and we need to be accepting regardless of non-differences, such as race or the foods we eat. I have seen a lot of love in this community, and I know it has what it takes to make this a non-issue. We can only get there by talking about it.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He can be contacted at 562-3187 or