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The great Popeyes chicken sandwich craze of 2019 has sparked a battle between Black Twitter and people claiming that Black people will wait for chicken, but not to vote.
People nationwide waited in long lines, some for hours, to sink their teeth into fried chicken on brioche following the sandwich’s Aug. 12 release. The phenomenon inspired some to falsely opine that Black people will wait in long lines for chicken, but not to cast a ballot.
On Sunday, singer Janelle Monáe kicked off the controversy by tweeting, “Perhaps we put voting booths at every Popeyes location? While we wait on that sammich you can register and vote @popeyes holla.”
Monáe later deleted the tweet and apologized, but it was too late. Black Twitter rose up to challenge her and others, like Newt Gingrich, who made the same claim.
You're a racist.— Max (@maxinecassadore) August 26, 2019
Newt Gingrich quoted this morning making the rounds on Sunday morning talk shows: “I wonder how many black folks causing traffic jams waiting in line at the drive-thru to get to a fried chicken sandwich are registered to vote.“
Their point: No one fought harder or waited longer to participate in the democratic process; nor have other groups continued suffering as much voter suppression. And they brought mountains of evidence to prove it.
“People are so busy using the Popeyes sandwich to shame black people about voting that no one has even brought up the fact it’s easier to buy a Popeyes chicken sandwich than it is for a lot of black folks to vote,” David Dennis Jr. said.
To get a chicken sandwich, you don’t need to take off work or have an ID, it doesn’t matter if you have a felony, and, “My order won’t get tossed out in a government-sanctioned act of chicken order suppression,” he continued in the thread.
Dennis was one of many to point out facts like: Black women vote at higher rates than most other groups; if you subtract those disenfranchised by felony convictions, Black men do too, as the Atlantic’s Adam Serwer noted.
Further, nobody ever suggests that white people should care as much about voting as they do for Adele tickets.
BLACK PEOPLE WILL STAND IN LINE FOR HOURS FOR CHICKEN BUT WON'T VOTE OMG OMG OMG— #PettyPendergrass (@ashoncrawley) August 25, 2019
meanwhile ... pic.twitter.com/u9DNIc91ec
Janelle Monae: "Black people need to spend just as time at the voting booth as they do at Popeyes."— hellresidentNY (@hellresidentNY) August 26, 2019
Cynthia Erivo: "Yeah, we need to focus on what's important & do more to make sure that our vote counts."
Black Twitter: pic.twitter.com/JbkAS88xSA
Janelle's comment was... unfortunate, but I am SCREAMING at Cynthia's enthusiastic response— 🌴Diet Chaos™🌴 (@LiveNudeJulia) August 26, 2019
"The coloreds are at ease in the chicken eateries, of course they'll vote there" pic.twitter.com/cGI58gGspg
When my white friends went crazy for McDonalds Rick and Morty thing it was just a fun thing they did. When my black friends go crazy for a new chicken sandwich everyone is telling them to go register to vote.— Mike Guardabascio (@Guardabascio) August 26, 2019
Lunch can be fun. Life can be fun.
Let. Black. Folk. Eat. Chicken. Sandwiches. In. Peace. Without. Needing. To. Vote. Or. Stand. In. Line. For. Unemployment. Challenge.— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) August 26, 2019
Black people have given their lives, property, and time to access the basic right to vote.
Trivializing their ongoing struggle with a mean-spirited quip about people waiting for a chicken sandwich isn’t just arguably racist, it’s utterly inaccurate as well.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.