Though some users harness its power to do good in the world and engage in enlightened debate, Twitter is not exacly known as a bastion of high falutin discourse and erudite beliefs. And on Friday, many users of the social media site took the opportunity yet again to show just how low-minded they can be.
National Watermelon Day, held every August 3, reminds people to enjoy one of Mother Nature's sweetest, most refreshing fruits on one of the hottest days of the summer.
People celebrate the holiday by carving designs and faces into the outer shells of whole watermelons, hosting watermelon seed spitting contests and simply eating it straight off the rind, mixed into chutneys, chopped into fruit salads or even roasted on the grill.
But dozens of pathetic blowhards took to Twitter on Friday to express their prejudiced -- and entirely unsurprising -- reactions to National Watermelon Day, equating the holiday with the long-held racist stereotype that black people have an unnatural affinity for the fruit.
And @EvanAllabach -- whose Twitter photo shows mass murderer James Holmes Photoshopped to look like Batman villain the Joker -- had the following comment to share: "Today is national watermelon day I guess... I bet black people are going ape shit."
But though it has been around for many decades, that prejudicial perception has no basis in reality, according to a compilation of information on the topic posted on abagond.wordpress.com and drawn from a wide range of respected sources:
"The watermelon stereotype is the White American belief that black people have a particular weakness for watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), that it is one of the foods they like best," the piece explains. "The stereotype goes back at least 200 years to slave times. We have pictures of it that go back at least to the 1890s and continue all the way down to the present day ... It also features in racist jokes. Still."
The article goes on to explain that there is no truth to the racist stereotype, citing statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture outlining the amount of watermelon the average American ate in 1996, broken down by race.
That year, white Americans ate an average of 5.9 Kilograms of the fruit, while black Americans ate 6.0 Kilograms and Hispanic Americans ate 8.1 Kilograms. In other words black and white Americans ate basically the exact same amount of watermelon, while Hispanics actually ate more than two Kilograms more than either blacks or whites. In other words, the facts don't support the hype.
Some racists will attempt to explain that the stereotype about black people and watermelon is not based on average consumption nationwide, but is more based on geography, demographics or history. The article debunks that notion as well:
"It is not even a case of watermelon being a food that is most common in the American South or a cheap food most common among the poor: in America it is most commonly eaten in the west, in the suburbs and by the middle-class," the article notes. "It is not even the case that watermelons came to America from West Africa along with slaves and okra: Europeans have known about watermelons since the 1200s, when the Moors of Spain brought them, along with oranges and algebra (neither of which are seen as a black thing)."
So in other words there is no factual underpinning to the watermelon jokes that have swept across Twitter today. It's just racism, pure and simple.