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No judgment about non-grits eaters; just feel sorry you're missing out

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Reggie ponder lifestyles chowan herald

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By Reggie Ponder
Columnist

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Oftentimes when I eat grits, as I did a couple of mornings ago and also one morning late last week, I think about the assumptions some people make about people who eat grits.

Eating grits is not only a satisfying nutritional experience, it’s also an integral part of a whole lifestyle associated with the rural South, and as such carries with it expectations about the person eating the grits in terms of intelligence, outlook and various habits of mind and heart.

I should say at the outset I’m not one who cares about such expectations. I aim to have legitimate expectations for myself and I strive to meet them as best I can from one day to the next.

Some days are better than others, like anyone else.

But if people (and we’re talking about residents of other states and area of the country; people from North Carolina understand grits) choose to draw extensive conclusions about a person because they eat grits, or own a shotgun (which I don’t, but would like to) or even own a semi-automatic rifle (which I used to do, but don’t now) I am not going to let that weigh on my mind.

I suspect a lot of folks do let things like that weigh on their minds, though.

Believe it or not I think grits (and its attendant paraphernalia) has a lot to do with the much-lamented cultural divide or polarization that we hear so much about these days.

There are many factors that contribute to it but certainly one contributor is rampant stereotyping around everything from the music someone listens to, to the way they dress, to what they eat for breakfast.

Eating grits, it turns out, is a political statement to a lot of people.

For me, it’s not political at all. It’s a simple matter of eating something I have enjoyed my whole life, something my mother cooked for me when I was a child and something my grandmother cooked for my mother when she was a child.

I know Mike Huckabee likes grits. I know because he wrote a book about liking grits.

But I imagine former President Jimmy Carter also likes grits, and their diverging political views might not matter all that much if they had a chance to share a table and enjoy a good mess of grits.

My simple rule is this: I’m going to eat grits when I want to and I’m not going to care whether anyone else believes it’s the thing to eat or not — and if anybody doesn’t want to eat grits I’m not drawing any negative conclusions about what kind of person they are.

But I have to feel just a little bit sorry for anyone who doesn’t appreciate the taste of grits.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.

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