Friday, March 12, 2010

Armchair Sociology--The Racial Politics of Hot Dog Eating: Should I Go Back to Weiner Circle and Get a Double Char Redhot?

And yes, I have had a chocolate shake at Weiner Circle.

As noted cultural theorist Stuart Hall suggested, "race is the modality in which class is lived."

Ultimately, race (with its history, burdens, triumphs and tragedies) is the ether that we all breath, and the sea in which we swim. Thus, it manifests itself in social interactions both large and small.

I don't often solicit advice from folks. I am hard headed and willful by nature--it is my Virgo personality. But, I am in the midst of an existential and gastronomical dilemma. To resolve this state of angst I need your help.

I love the double char redhots served at Weiner Circle. I really really do. But, after watching this special on This American Life I swore them off. The toxic racial politics, Lincoln Park with its Trixies and Chads (Chicago folks will get the reference), and the exploitative capitalism at work in how the black folk who work at Weiner Circle are treated was too great a burden. I had to vote with my feet: the politics of my hot dog eating could not be reconciled with my politics as a respectable Negro.

In 2010 my resolve is weakening. I so desire to see a movie (check out The Prophet by the way) and eat a double char redhot with fries. Will this make me less than respectable? Is there a time limit on our boycotts?

Random factoid: to this day I still will not shop at Urban Outfitters...but that is another story for another time.

Hell, if the folks working at Weiner Circle take this abuse then that makes it okay...right?


Anonymous said...

That is an interesting dilemma. I wonder what the consequences will be if all respectable Negroes discontinue their patronage. I imagine that the ign't masses will continue to be there in force. What if there was a more visible force of respectable folk in the crowd? Could this curb some of the ign't activity? Is it better vote your dollar into the pocket of some white hot dog vendor in an establishment where the racism is covertly obfuscated in the stratified hierarchy of bus boys, dishwashers, and management? By witholding your dollar, who are you hurting and who are you helping? By removing your visibility from the patronage, is the message that you send going to be recieved in the way you intend? Or are you taking money from the pockets of hard working folk and leaving them to the wolves? What of solidarity?
Just some thoughts mixed in with my refreshened craving for a hot dog.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Chicago from 90' to 99' and used to work down the street on Clark for a while. I never ate at the Weiner Circle because I was vegetarian. I didn't know about the baggin' that went on there until much later. I'm curious as to how it started. Did the staff just get fed up with all of the drunk idiots and start talkin' shit and then spiral into what it is now or did it start with the drunk idiots? Shouldn't the owners take some responsibility and make sure it doesn't get racial?

As far as your quandary goes, I would maintain the boycott if for no other reason than your health.

gordon gartrelle said...

I have never patronized this shithole, and I never will.

It's all about Hot Doug's anyway.

Constructive Feedback said...

My friend Chauncey -

You had free reign to view this video tape and then render your opinion about it without any forces to blow you one way or the other.

Let me ask you a question.

The request for a "Chocolate Milkshake" give by the ALL WHITE BASE OF CUSTOMERS to the ALL BLACK COOKS AND FOOD SERVICE AGENTS behind the counter.............can you tell me what you figure this request originated from?

The subtitle said "Chocolate Milkshake" was when a woman lifted her shirt and shook her breasts.

Now wait.
Even WHITE WOMEN where yelling for it.
Genetics say that WHITE WOMEN don't produce 'Chocolate Milkshakes' and since these White women DON'T work behind the counter - WHO do you think they were asking to "Shake their Chocolate breasts"?

You see Chauncey - IF the Black workers feel "degraded" with the "N-word" or references to MONKEY.............what should they do when these same White folks ask these Black women to SHOW THEIR BREASTS and SHAKE THEM?

Big Man said...

Do the women actually show their breasts? That is beyond disturbing.

The juxtaposition of the black workers and the white customers, the jeering mob of customers, was jarring. Man, I wanted to start busting heads.

The things people do for money. For the tips and opportunity, they sit there and take abuse.

What are the rules of engagement? Can the workers fire back at the customers with no holds barred? Or, do they have limits?

Finally, on your problem, I had the same issue with ESPN and NFL. I had to boycott both because of problems I had with how they handle black folks. I'm wavering on the NFL, but I don't think I'll ever waver on ESPN.

chaunceydevega said...

@Gordon--you are a hater.

@Big man--Yes they do show the titties and put them in the soda. The employees can fire back, but they never have enough ammo. When all the white frat boys and sorors are there it is really disturbing. I can only in my darkest of nightmares imagine what a lynching is like...after seeing that in person I can get one millionth of the group think that leads to such behavior.



As a white dude who shovels daily thru mountains of personal conflict and guilt as a result of racist parents this just utterly fkd me up. I am completely at a loss for words.