In Praise of Pork

Myths abound among blacks about the swine's connection to slavery. Let's set the record straight.

Natalie Y. Moore (Courtesy of Prince A. Mhoon)
Natalie Y. Moore (Courtesy of Prince A. Mhoon)

I get really excited when I meet a black man who eats pork. This is not so simple if you live outside the South and want to date a man younger than 45 years old. In certain parts of the black community, eating swine is a cultural no-no.

Alas, this can be a dating challenge in my world.

I went on a blind date with a guy who didn’t eat pork. I know this because he had trolled my Facebook page and had seen that I was a “fan” of bacon. He confronted me and turned up his nose as I rhapsodized about the beauty of bacon. He told me why he didn’t eat pork by quoting a 20-year-old Rakim rap song.

We never went out again.

Recently a friend came by my house, and I had just finished cooking my favorite Saturday snack of sliced avocado with crumbled bacon. The lingering smell of fat offended him. I had to tune out as he extolled the virtues of turkey bacon. Turkey bacon is crap.

Pork bacon, on the other hand, makes me smile. The juiciness of a pork roast is more succulent than a pot roast. Broiled pork chops with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil is a quick, yet fine, meal. Luckily for me, pork is the “it” meat in many restaurants — from pork belly to high-end pork rinds. Yes, there is such a thing as high-end pork rinds.

For some black folks, however, the pig is not the “other white meat.” Instead it represents filth and a nasty animal that will afflict you with all kinds of diseases. (See Elijah Muhammad’s How to Eat to Live.) Anti-pork ideology is a throwback from the black power era, when militants demonized pork. “Pig” also became a pejorative for the police.

As black consciousness in the hip-hop generation — those growing up in the 1980s and 1990s — blossomed, pork didn’t fit into the diet. In Ice Cube’s classic “It Was a Good Day,” he raps: “I don’t know but today seems kinda odd/No barking from the dog, no smog/And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog.”

I don’t begrudge eating choices that are based on religion. But even for non-Muslims, this no-pork edict is weighty. When my friends and acquaintances deride pork, I think it’s more out of habit than based in fact. Something clicked in the black community about the pig.