Chicken and Turkey and Poultry Lovers in General
My first memory of Halloween was being a three year old Jasmine in a home-made Jasmine costume that didn’t have the ugly flesh colored fabric over the midrif. I feel the fact that my own mother made this scandalous costume for her barely past toddler aged child explains a lot as to why I am now the president/queen/dictator of the Team No Shirt Girl Gang.
Jasmine is by far the best princess because she is sassy, hot, independent and doesn’t take shit from anyone. When I found out that my flight to Cape Town was going to have a 10 hour layover in Istanbul - my first trip to the middle east - I joked with my friend Meg about wanting to traipse around the city in my aqua sports bra channeling the diva princess to which she responded “GIRL YOU WOULD BE THE QUEEN OF AGRABAH IN A MINUTE.”
Pro tip: go to the church where you find community that believes in your shirtless dreams.
One time I got into a conversation about Islam with my trump supporting ex-boyfriend and I questioned him about how on Earth he could possibly support a candidate who spewed hate at millions of innocent people. He patronizingly responded with “Well, Kelsey, if you read the Quaran, you see that if they’re actually following Islam, the people in the Middle East do want to kill Americans.”
Unable to hide what I’m actually feeling/thinking at any moment, I audibly scoffed and remarked something along the lines of “Oh, right, that’s what you learned when you took the time to read it? When exactly was that? I’m incredibly liberal in my beliefs and believe that Jesus loves everyone too much to send people to hell and will work it all out in the end and then you have people who bomb abortion clinics who also identify with the Christian faith. I hate it when I’m lumped in with heretics and if you actually took the time to get to know someone who practices Islam you’d be surprised as to how lovely they are.” Straight crickets.
Before departing our beautifully fucked up country where someone as horrid as Donald Trump can run for president I had a stopover in Chicago to visit some of my family. It was wonderful to see how my little cousins had grown into little baby adults and were making such great choices with their lives. My aunt Lisa loves me very much and also happens to fear anything that is not 100% sanitary or doesn’t speak proper English, read: forks that have been used to turn over raw chicken and pretty much everyone I love. Different strokes for different folks, ya know? As I was showering/packing/organizing my stuff to depart the country she nearly lost the plot that I was wearing a tank top and told me it was too sexy. Holding back all internal desires to go and whip out my instagram and show her all of my shirtless pics, I bit my tongue and reassured her I had a leather jacket that would be going on top of my shirt.
After being lectured on the dangers of talking, breathing next to and looking Middle Eastern men in the eyes for an hour beforehand, I was dropped off and through security I got a text message asking me if I was safe to which I sarcastically replied: “Yup, took my jacket off and am wearing my “sexy shirt” and I switched my Tinder location to Istanbul and am swiping right on every turban I see.” I take personal responsibility for all ulcers she may have in the next two months.
I ate eggplant and meatballs and Turkish coffee and let the mixture of European and Asian air fill up my lungs. I bought and lost the world’s cutest beanie in the same layover which has to be a record. I morphed into a walking heart in the eyes emoji as I weaved in and out of markets of spice mountains while plotting and planning what I was going to bring back to America with me to cook for all of my midwestern love bugs. As I was moseying through the city center, minding my own business, a familiar smell wafted into my nostrils. It bypassed my nose hairs and made it’s way into my soul like it belonged there. I looked up and there it was in all of it’s glory: KFC. Every country I’ve been to has KFC and I’ve come to realize that fried chicken is the world’s great equalizer.
It’s so easy for us to find things we don’t like about other cultures or develop stereotypes surrounding them based off one bad experience or person. The analogies about poisonous skittles representing terrorists in a handful of refugees make me physically ill and I just want to shake the idiots that come up with that utter bullshit. You know what I think about the refugees? I think they are human and I think they like fried chicken. Just like the Islam practicing Turkish people like fried chicken. Just like the African people who practice tribal religions like fried chicken. Just like the catholic South American people like fried chicken. We all like fried fucking chicken so praise Jesus. We have that in common. The moment you find something in common with someone is the same moment where you HAVE to recognize their humanity. Your desire for 11 herbs and spices is just as human and real as theirs and all of a sudden some of their other needs matter. We're all big chicken advocates and we all have Starbucks basic white girl fall flavored drinks and Turkey even has a flipping Caribou. We all like Nike and Adidas and we all recognize that Zara will always be the world's most superior brand. Their livelihood starts to matter like yours does. You desire justice for them like you do for yourself. You recognize their need for safety and housing and before you know it you’re not just recognizing the humanity in someone else, but you’re able to actually love them and put their needs above your wants and that is when the world shifts and peace becomes possible.
Identifying similarities leads to recognizing humanity which leads to compassion for others regardless of their differences. As I continued to wrestle with the concept of Jesus "teaching me to love like Him again" I realized Jesus didn’t come to die for Christians, he came to love, serve and die for everyone and that includes the “questionable skittles.” He sets the table with the bucket and the shitty potatoes and the mac’n’cheese pumped with MSG and artificial colouring and He says “All of you. Shut up. Stop fighting. I love you. Let’s mash.”