Hello, friends. I’m sending you much love and support right now. The past two weeks have been so intense—it has been a time to listen, and learn, and witness, and grieve, and feel tremendous compassion. And change. There are many important voices and perspectives and stories we need to listen to and make space for right now, which is why I haven’t recorded an episode of the On the Fly podcast since the brutal murder of George Floyd. It hasn’t felt right.
It’s also why I haven’t posted a personal statement, and have chosen to amplify Black voices and show support for the Black Lives Matter movement on my social media instead. I prefer to quiet down so I/we can better hear the Black voices I/we need to listen to. People are processing a lot of trauma and pain, and also lighting the way for change. I want to respectfully hold space for what I’m seeing and hearing, instead of adding noise.
However, many of you have been following me for years, and perhaps there are some of you who would be interested in what I’m thinking, observing, and learning right now. I wrote a piece a week ago, but I didn’t want to take up bandwidth, and decided not to post it. But for those of you who care to click over, I have now written another piece with some thoughts, observations, and resources. I’m not including it here in my newsletter—except for a few paragraphs below—because it should be your choice if you want to read it and take up time with it, or not.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices, keep coming to the front! We’re already seeing a dismantling of white-centric media brands, with Monday’s resignation of Bon Appétit’s editor in chief, Adam Rapaport, over a racist brown-face Halloween costume he wore 16 years ago, a precursor supporting the allegations of racism in BA’s workplace (including BIPOC contributors not being paid for their Test Kitchen videos, while white contributors were compensated), and a lack of inclusiveness and diversity in Bon Appétit’s content, contributors, and staffing. At Refinery29, the top editor and co-founder Christene Barberich has stepped down after accusations of racial discrimination in the workplace. There is definitely more to come. Fortunately, Osayi Endolyn has conveniently pre-written a searing food media resignation letter for anyone to use.
Even with all the well-meaning lists we’re seeing and posts about Black restaurants and businesses and artists and fashion designers and filmmakers and musicians to support, we need to pay attention to how we engage. Will our support be short-term or long-term, voyeuristic or authentic (and actionable)? This thought-provoking piece from Ruth Gebreyesus takes a closer look.
By all means, we must support Black business—and especially in this devastating pandemic, support is welcome and overdue. But we can’t just pick up some dinner for the first time from a Black-owned spot we recently learned about and post it on Instagram and mentally check the “I’m an ally!” box. We have to be more than performative (which includes taking selfies at a protest or posting a pic of your donation to the NAACP). With anything I am writing or posting these past two weeks, I keep checking in and asking myself: “Who does this benefit? Myself? Is this virtue signaling? Is this supportive, or performative? Is this educational, helpful, truly in solidarity?” (Learn more in this piece from Ijeoma Oluo.)
While I have always considered myself very committed to covering all kinds of diverse businesses and chefs and events in tablehopper, with a particular focus on women and small businesses, I recognize and fully acknowledge that I need to make a concerted effort to specifically elevate more Black businesses and makers and stories in this column and the other outlets I work with. I have fallen short in my coverage. I also need to expand my knowledge and awareness of our national Black food scene, including Black content creators and voices, from food writers to podcasters. I commit to engaging in more food justice work and activism, and to recommit to more volunteering.
And then there’s the inherent racism (and sexism! and anti-LGBTQIA/homophobia!) in our restaurant/F&B industry that desperately needs to be acknowledged and addressed and dismantled and reformed, from structural and staffing issues (do you hire and promote Black employees into management positions?), to sourcing (do you work with any Black farms or wineries or purveyors?), to how Black customers are treated. This piece from chef-writer Amethyst Ganaway is one to read now, as well as this one on our broken restaurant system, also from Ruth Gebreyesus. We have a huge opportunity to make crucial changes, right now, and for our future. [cont.]
Thank you for being here. I do have a few quick bites of restaurant news for you today, but otherwise, I want to continue to maintain a respectful, low volume at this time. I’ll be posting some restaurant updates on Instagram (@tablehopper) since I still want to show support for our struggling F&B industry—and please support Bakers Against Racism June 15th-20th—but that’s about it for now. Thanks for understanding, and let’s keep doing the work—every day.
The Mission High/San Francisco Solidarity Protest for George Floyd. Photo: © tablehopper.com.View tablehopper Newsletter from Thursday, Jun 11 2020