I recently watched a Netflix original film entitled “Uncorked,” which starred Niecy Nash, Courtney Vance, and Mamoudou Athie. It was a decent movie that centered on combining two cultures: food and wine. However, this is not a movie review.

On the surface, the words “you hungry” symbolize taking care of the physiological needs of a person. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the first step for a person to reach self-actualization is to provide the basic things they need to survive (i.e. food). Asking if “you hungry” in the Black community falls between “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and Swag Surfing. It’s a staple, it’s familiar, and it’s comfortable.

On a deeper level, “you hungry” symbolizes the need to reconnect and heal from the dysfunction attached to a disagreement between two willful people. It is done as means to provide a white flag of surrender in hostile territory. Most black parents never have and never will utter the words “I’m sorry”. In fact, I think the chapter on apologizing to your kids was left out of some of the parenting manuals. You will never get an explanation for why they might have overacted, but they love you too much to let you starve. I would argue this is why we have so many emotional attachments to food, but that’s a blog for another day.

In this movie, the father/son relationship is filled with problematic communication. The father gave up his dreams and subsequently wanted the son to do the same. The son warred between the unrealistic expectations of the father and the actualizing of his dreams. Both had a common goal in mind: creating and continuing legacy. Every disagreement and awkward silence always came back to two words “you hungry”. Better known as “I’m sorry; I love you; let’s start over” in the Black community.

“Uncorked” made me realize the complexity and beauty of relationships. It’s in the awkward silences and between the clinging pots and pans where I have forged unbreakable bonds and unshakeable memories. It’s in grandma’s Thanksgiving and mama’s Christmas. It’s between the cheesiest mac and cheese, the tender turkey, and the best dressing on this side of heaven that truer words have never been spoken. Food equals community, and community equals love. 

So, “you hungry?”

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