Where did the watermelon stereotype come from?

I'm Afro-Caribbean living in England so I am not African-American. It was only through the internet that I found out about this watermelon stereotype used for Black people. Apparently we all love watermelon. Did this stereotype come from America because I've never heard of it until about a year ago.

To me it's like saying "Chineese people love apples" I just don't get it. Everyone eats apples. What's so special about apples? How can this be a stereotype?

Some stereotypes I can understand a little bit but not this one. How did it come to be?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Poor blacks in the south had to eat whatever was convenient & less expensive-watermelon bc its easy to grow & chicken is a lot cheaper than beef or pork. Its also a little easier to raise chickens. The habit of eating chitlins (pig intestines) came out of these conditions too & eating fried foods overall. You don't need an oven to bake just a stove top is used for frying. Funny thing is, poor white southerners ate/eat the same way-who do they think we got our eating habits from? But ppl just loovvvve stereotypes so there you go. I'm surprised you haven't heard about it. I had a tutor who's Indonesian who asked me why black ppl love watermelon so much. Seriously.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.

    RE:

    Where did the watermelon stereotype come from?

    I'm Afro-Caribbean living in England so I am not African-American. It was only through the internet that I found out about this watermelon stereotype used for Black people. Apparently we all love watermelon. Did this stereotype come from America because I've never heard of it until about a...

    Source(s): watermelon stereotype from: https://shortly.im/goyqF
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  • 1 decade ago

    The bits about watermelon being native to Africa is correct, especially near the Kalahari desert.

    However, the reason for the stereotype is because watermelons, as the name suggest have a high water content, more so than other fruits in fact. They are also really high in nutrients and vitamins, but I don't know that they would have been aware of that part. Anyway, Slaves working in the fields were at risk for dehydration since it was intense labor and it's hot in the south. Nobody was passing out water bottles at the time.

    So they would eat slices of watermelon to hydrate and refresh themselves from working in the fields. That's the where the stereotype comes from.

    Source(s): this has a lot of info on the origins of the stereotype including some historical "artistic" and definitely racist images. http://www.redclayroad.com/essayswatermelon.htm
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm sure it came from America, but I'm not exactly sure about the "watermelon thing." I have seen on the History Channel that slave owners in the southern US used to give their slaves a chicken on holidays, like Christmas, as a special gift for a meal. The slaves would kill it and fry it since that was the easiest, cheapest and most readily available method for them to cook with since only the wealthy had ovens back in the day. So, I figure that's where the "fried chicken thing" came from. I'm pretty sure that watermelons grow, or at least, used to be grown in the south because of it's long growing season, so maybe the slaves had access to them, too. Maybe they were allowed to grow them in their own gardens.

    I think The Seal is right. I didn't think about the high water content. The slaves probably needed more water than anyone else because they worked so long and hard in the hot sun, in the hot summers in the south and would probably become dehydrated more easily because of it.

    I'm surprised that so many have never heard this stereotype before, though I can understand why you in England wouldn't have.

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  • SINDY
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Watermelons are native to Africa and were introduced to the U.S. by Africans transported here as slaves. Likewise, watermelon was / has been a major food among slaves and poor folks throughout history- Because watermelon is a hardy plant which is easy and cheap to care for and maintain.

    There are, of course, many non-blacks who are poor. Such has always been the case. But I reckon watermelon is associated with black people due to it's African origin and having been brought over during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

    Just goes to show ya how ignorant people are. China is the world's largest watermelon producer. Why aren't we making watermelon jokes about THEM? [Not that I think we should- I'm just making a point.]

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Watermelon And Black People

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    that's a very good question.

    I am an American, and I don't know why some whites think it is a cute insult to suggest that a black person likes watermelon. Doesn't everyone like watermelon?

    Somehow, eating watermelon has come to be identified as a racial stereotype. Why or exactly how? I don't know.

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  • 6 years ago

    Bringing clean water to slaves in the cotton fields was extra work. so watermellons were grown in the fields also as a source of easy access water. slaves always had quick access to water. Saved time and ensured they would have good source of hydration. They loved it too. That's where the watermellon stereotype started.

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  • 1 decade ago

    During slavery and even after, whites who owned plantations did not want to provide blacks with proper foods and nutrition. They sought for foodstuff that was cheap and abundant to feed the many slaves. In Jamaica, for instance, the slave owners sought foods from many sources, including from the South Seas and India. When Captain Bligh (from Mutiny on the Bounty) came back from the South Seas with BREADFRUIT, which was very filling, the plantation owners were happy because they could feed the workers without giving them better, if more costly foods which they saved for themselves. What made the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica different is the fact that there were so many tropical fruits and wild boars (pigs) that the slaves could sneak and cook underground, which is where the concept of jerk meat and barbecuing originated (from Jamaica).

    In the US, the slave owners gave the slaves WATERMELON, pig snouts, intestines (chit'lins), hog maw and all the parts of the animal that they deemed to be waste, undesirable. As you may already know, watermelon is very filling. Therefore, it is no wonder that they fed it to the slaves and later, to the sharecroppers. In essence, black people learned to make lemonade out of lemons. The watermelon, which is a delicious fruit, is just another sometimes unpleasant reminder of what blacks had to work with in order to survive in the US. I say, what God has blessed, let no man curse!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the stereotype formed because a good portion of the Black-American population lives in the South and in the South most people love watermelon.

    Hope this Helps!

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