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Responding to Semen, Belatedly

The Parody Horizon

Is dry asparagus a racial issue?

A line beyond which there’s little to add. 

A dried-out batch of asparagus has touched off a debate about racial discrimination, grocery stores and the role of citizen-led commissions. It started in May when resident David Olander was perusing the produce section of the University City Schnucks. He noticed the asparagus weren’t resting in a tray of water. “It was just sitting there dried out,” said Olander, a member of the city’s human relations commission. Olander summoned an assistant manager, and then he asked the question: Did the quality of the asparagus have any relationship to the store’s location in a black neighbourhood?

“I certainly hope not,” Olander recalled the manager saying. Olander’s experience prompted him to write a letter to Schnucks CEO Scott Schnuck, and out of that came a meeting with Schnucks employees. But the letter and meeting were tinged with allegations that the St Louis area’s largest grocery chain was discriminating against minority communities — accusations that Schnucks vehemently denies… Most of these events occurred without the knowledge of the City Council — some of whom were upset to learn that someone representing a city commission had levelled racial discrimination accusations against one of the city’s long-standing businesses…. 

Mayor Shelley Welsch, however, doesn’t believe the commission acted outside its authority. The seven-member commission advises the City Council on a variety of matters to prevent discrimination and foster a welcoming environment. “If they perceive something is different, they have the right to ask why,” Welsch said… Olander, meanwhile, stands by his actions. The asparagus he saw back in May was a far cry from the asparagus he had seen at the Schnucks about eight miles away in Ladue, where it sat in water, looking beautiful, he told his fellow commissioners, according to a recording of the meeting. Olander admitted to being in an “ornery mood” the day he visited the store. “I just felt like stirring it up a little bit, letting them know that somebody cares,” he said. 

I will, though, note that if a person’s mission in life and their own claim on piety is to hunt out witches, they will, in time, find witches everywhere.

Via Julia. Related, a Guardian columnist ponders truffles, rap and “a new kind of black identity.”