Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has faced allegations of so-called ‘cultural appropriation’ after launching his own ‘jerk’ brand of rice.
Labour MP Dawn Butler — who was appointed by party leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 as the Shadow Minister for ‘Diverse Communities’ — said that Oliver’s new product was “not OK.” Butler, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Tweeted: “I’m just wondering do you know what Jamaican jerk actually is?"
“It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. Your jerk rice is not OK. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop,” she deplored.
Butler’s comments quickly whipped up a storm in the blogosphere, with some Twitter users rallying behind the representative for Brent Central.
Just because Dawn Butler's an MP it doesn't mean she can't have an opinion on anything else. To say otherwise is ridiculous and single minded at best. She's not saying nobody from Jamaica shouldn't eat Jamaican food, she's pointing out the bastardisation of our national dish.— Regina Holland (@ReginaHolland_) August 18, 2018
Others, however, were quick to point out their disagreements.
— Phil Moore (@pjm56tw) August 19, 2018
Some also suggested that there might be a smidgen of hypocrisy at play.
— Jacob Furedi (@jacobfuredi) August 20, 2018
— Old Holborn✘ (@Holbornlolz) August 18, 2018
The Cambridge Dictionary defines so-called ‘cultural appropriation’ as: “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Critics of the term have however argued that it has been adopted as a doctrine of the politically correct ‘Social Justice Warior’ movement, who use it to conflate culture with racism in an effort to hijack political discourse.
Some on Twitter took issue with the ingredients of Oliver’s new Jerk recipe, rather than the implications of its cultural origins.
— David Llewellyn (@TheDaiLlew) August 18, 2018
Scottish Conservative politician Murdo Fraser quipped: “Just wait until he starts selling haggis.”
— Neil O'Brien MP (@NeilDotObrien) August 18, 2018
Oliver is not the only celebrity chef to be accused of the offense of cultural appropriation — Gordon Ramsey has also felt the wrath of those who believe in the legitimacy of the concept.
In other parts of the West, namely the United States, allegations of cultural appropriation have even been used to close down budding small businesses. In 2017, two white women were forced to close their makeshift Burrito stand, ‘Kooks Burritos,’ in Portland, Oregon after been accused of the apparent offense.
However, the term’s usage is not limited to food, it has also been deployed in attempts to delegitimize choices of clothing, as well as hairstyle.