No one is immune to the slander of a bad plate posted to social media. Not even if you’re Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a 2018 EBONY Power 100 Women Up nominee and only the second female mayor in your city’s history.
On Christmas morning, Bottoms, 48, shared photos of her holiday brunch spread including a not so enticing picture of her mac and cheese, a dish that is a staple in African-American cuisine. Black Twitter and the internets soon called for the politician’s Black card over the “dry” macaroni dish.
Although some jokes crossed the line, Bottoms spoke exclusively to EBONY.com about her annual Christmas brunch where she cooks for about 50 people and how her circle found humor in mac and cheese gate.
“Ironically, I do these homemade recipes, but I also do all of these EBONY recipes, and I was laughing looking at the dates,” the mayor said. “I used to scour the magazines, and I have recipes dated 1999, 2000 and 2001. I do the sweet potato cheesecake. I did some seafood pies and a bunch of stuff that I pulled from EBONY over the years.”
Through a fit of laughter, Bottoms assured the mac and cheese didn’t come from any archived pages of our historic African-American publication.
“Because I do 98 percent of the cooking, I have to start days in advance. I cooked the mac and cheese on Christmas Eve.”
She explained that she does a majority of cooking for the large party. To be more efficient with time she made the now-infamous mac and cheese the night prior. Despite people’s negative assessment of the dish, several of her relatives tasted the mac and cheese on the eve of the holiday and remarked that it was the best dish they’ve ever had.
On Christmas morning, the politician said, “When I got ready to warm it up, I put more cheese on top intent on stirring it, and I was just taking pictures as I went.”
This picture dried out my contact lens
— chaos magician (@BaddieLambily) December 25, 2018
“This picture dried out my contact lens,” one user on Twitter said of the mac and cheese photo.
Bottoms said when her family began to see the reaction to the dish on social media “they were laughing so hard being led by my mother, [Slyvia Robinson].”
“Let me tell ya’ll something Black America, Black Twitter and Black Instagram,” the 48-year-old said between bouts of laughter. “There is nothing that you all can say about my mac and cheese that will be far funnier or worse than my family.”
The Atlanta mayor acknowledged that her presentation was not the best but questioned if her critics “want style or substance.”
She was also very adamant that her “Black card still stands.”
Bottoms was appreciative for the laughs and joy that came from the backlash over the picture. “It was nice to get people some comic relief,” she said.
“I even had a good friend whose mom died a few days before Christmas and he texted me, ‘I thought this was going to be the worst Christmas ever. [But] watching this conversation on social media has made me laugh so hard, so thank you so much.'”
Jokes aside the Democrat has more change and better policies on her plate for the upcoming political year. “This may sound simplistic, but I really hope 2019 is a year of joy,” she expressed.
She added, “This year has been such a difficult one in so many ways. I describe it as our ‘in spite of year.’ What I really hope not just for me, but for my team as well, that we can really begin to enjoy this fantastic opportunity that we have to lead what I believe would be the best city in the world. And be able to enjoy the moments because we’ve been so busy dealing with the next, [running] into the next, and putting out fires that I don’t think we’ve really had a chance to enjoy this place and space.”
Within the last year, Bottoms has overseen the most significant raise for Atlanta police the city has ever seen. “Our officers are out policing, and they aren’t fatigued, they aren’t resentful about their jobs, and hopefully that will foster even better relationships with our community,” she assured.
She continued, “There have been so many highlights of this year, it’s sometimes difficult for us to even remember what they all are, but we’ve made great strides with transparency.”
For the new year, Bottoms and her administration are focusing on affordable housing in Atlanta and have appointed an affordable housing chief. She wants to prioritize education, has given residents access to view the city’s spending online and oversaw the development and an app where they can report potholes.
More than anything Bottoms wants the people of her city to live better lives even if that includes making her the butt of a few mac and cheese jokes.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.