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Some thoughts, actions, and recommendations.
I’m grateful to have this space to collect my thoughts and feelings, and as a platform to spread knowledge and speak up.
A lot of people are phrasing this time as “painful” but I think that’s a cop-out. America, its history, and the systems that dictate it have created lifetimes of pain for Black people. But a lot of us, myself included, haven’t had to feel the pain that’s been amplified before and that’s taking precedence today. We’re not feeling it now, either. That’s why being an ally is about stepping in to carry a heavy load, to relieve those who are exhausted from being marginalized their whole lives, to fight for what’s right even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when the injustice doesn’t affect us directly. It’s not easy to figure out how we, as individuals, can be the most helpful to the Black community, but it’s past time to. And while we should donate as much as we can afford to the activist organizations fighting racism—and make those donations recurring—that’s not enough.
If there are things we don’t understand, we need to try harder by seeking perspectives outside of our bubbles. We need to let our guards down, be vulnerable, sit with our discomforts, and question them. Every day. We also need to mobilize right now, while government leaders are empowering the police to violently attack peaceful protesters and conduct unwarranted arrests.
Instead of letting our guilt eat us up inside, we should get outside. It’s important to stay tuned to the information being shared and the work being done online, and we should participate in those conversations if we feel that we can do so authentically. At the very least, we should prop up the messages and the voices that deserve to be heard. And yet being out in the streets is something anyone who is healthy and able should take part in. To experience this moment only via social media and news outlets is to miss so much of it.
These are some of the tenets that I’ve come to hold over the past week, that have helped me muster up courage and stay true. I’m still learning and processing. I still have a lot of progress to make.
Allyship requires daily action. When it comes to food, that means supporting Black-owned restaurants and businesses, cooking and sharing Black recipes, learning about Black foodways, reading and listening to Black voices, following Black perspectives, and hiring Black talent. That is by no means a comprehensive list, and I welcome input on anything I’ve left out.
Below are some ideas and resources, but know that we can’t only rely on shared lists and suggestions. Each one of us has to commit to the pursuit of deepening our knowledge, investments, and awareness.
If you’re ordering take-out, delivery, or even dining in (once that possibility returns), choose a Black-owned restaurant. Download EatOkra, which is Yelp for Black-owned restaurants. Also, food writers in many cities have been compiling lists. Find them, bookmark them, add to them. Here are three.
Look to influential figures that are using their platform to prop up the Black chefs, bakers, farmers, recipe authors, writers, and activists that are beacons of knowledge. Then follow their accounts.
Make note of how the restaurants you love and frequent are engaging with this current moment. It’s incredible to see so many in the industry donate some, or even all, of their sales to organizations like Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Block, and Color of Change, even as they’re struggling to stay afloat. I was especially impressed by this post (click through to read the whole slideshow) from Junghyun and Ellia Park of Atoboy, who are committing an entire month of profits to NAACP and Black Visions Collective. Even if you’re not in New York, you can buy something off their cool online shop, atonae.
I wrote a story that ran in Eater NY this week about laid-off restaurant chefs and bartenders who are creating new delivery businesses by starting small, staying local, and considering the future of the industry. There are some great folks doing cool things, including Kate Telfeyan (the former chef de cuisine of Mission Chinese) who is donating all proceeds from her family meal this week (deets here) to BTFA Collective, and Colin Bixler, whose bread is fantastic and who has been raising funds for Campaign Zero through his virtual pizza classes.
Stay safe, take care of others, speak up, and please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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