Food & Racial Justice: From Industry Coalitions to Feeding Protestors

Lack of HR support and attitudes towards service professionals can make the hospitality industry challenging for Black staff and other people of color. Coalitions and training programs formed from within the industry are powerful tools for dismantling these dynamics, however. Open letters, effective organizing, and grants have helped to bring industry inequities into the mainstream. Plus, efforts to nourish protestors, support Black-owned businesses, and document African Americans’ culinary contributions through history have fortified the connections between food and justice in popular culture.

This playlist brings together such stories and successful strategies for making the food industry more equitable and using food to make the wider world a better place. It highlights the individuals who have been driven to push past anger, indifference, and other barriers in order to find their voice and amplify the voices of others. This Black History month, we’re honored to recognize the accomplishments of these guests and acknowledge that much work remains to be done. 

Speaking Broadly Episode 53: Activism: How to Do More with the Voice You Have: In a moment when there's lots of conversation about diversity, food activist Ashtin Berry is committed to helping define a language to understand equity in hospitality and sharing how to take that next step into action. Berry reflects on how she pushed past her anger to find her own voice in order to fight the inequity and injustice she saw around her in the hospitality industry. Listen in to be moved and motivated to be a part of the change.

ShiftWork Episode 2: Real Talk On Racial Justice in Restaurants: Racial inequity can be found across industries in America, but hospitality is a particular microcosm where power imbalances, lack of HR support, and attitudes towards service professionals can make for particularly challenging dynamics for BIPOC staff. Host Kiki Louya hears from Raeghn Draper, founder of the Chicago Hospitality Accountable Actions Database (CHAAD), about the chain of events set off by a racist diner. Mavis-Jay Sanders, Director of Culinary Development and Education at Drive Change weighs in on the intersecting challenges faced by Queer people of color; she also shares insights into how restaurants can create supportive and equitable working environments for all.

Gastronomica Episode 1: A Gastronomica Interview with Chef Malcolm James Mitchell: Chef Malcolm talks about his experience as a chef, a culinary artist, and an advocate for Black chefs in the American hospitality industry. In conversation with Daniel Bender, a member of Gastronomica's Editorial Collective and a professor of food studies, labor, and American history, Chef Mitchell shares his story of becoming a chef, discusses what motivated him to publish his June 2021 open letter to Black Chefs in The Progressive magazine and the response that his letter has received, and reflects on the work that still needs to be done to build just and inclusive pathways in the culinary profession.

Item 13 Episode 74: Dine Diaspora and EatOkra Black Women in Food Grant: EatOkra, in partnership with Dine Diaspora, is providing $10,000 grants for Black women-owned restaurants across the United States. The EatOkra Black Women in Food Grants provide capital for Black women to accelerate growth for their brick-and-mortar restaurants. Aligned with EatOkra’s values, the opportunity will enable these businesses to “spread their wings and embrace their visions for tomorrow.” 

The Big Food Question Episode 2: How Can Black-Owned Businesses Survive and Build a Stronger Future?: Cheryl Straughter is the owner of the Boston restaurant and catering company, Soleil. After her business temporarily shut down due to the pandemic, she found relief in joining The Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, which aims to preserve the few gathering spaces for the city’s many black residents. She shares the coalition's demands, offers advice for those looking to organize, and discusses the systemic challenges Black owned businesses are facing.

All in the Industry Episode 326: Suzanne Barr, My Ackee Tree: Shari Bayer's guest is Suzanne Barr, a chef, restaurateur, and advocate for marginalized people in the food industry. Suzanne is based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and has a new book, My Ackee Tree, A Chef’s Memoir of Finding Home in the Kitchen. She was previously the Head Chef and a partner at True True Diner in Toronto, Canada; the owner of the popular Toronto restaurant Saturday Dinette; and the inaugural chef-in-residence at the Gladstone Hotel. She is the founder of the Dinettes Program, which trains young, marginalized women in the kitchen.

The Speakeasy Episode 483: A Balancing Act: Josh Davis of Brown and Balanced shares his thoughts on creating welcoming spaces in the hospitality industry, growing up competitive, and creating opportunities for young, hungry black and brown folks in the hospitality industry. 

Why Food? Episode 129: Gaïana Joseph & Allegra Massaro: Food activism for Black Lives Matter: Join co-hosts Ethan & Vallery for a conversation with Gaïana Joseph and Allegra Massaro, co-founders of Fuel the People, an organization in NYC and DC guided by the belief that food is the fuel for the revolution. They work to provide nourishment to protestors on the front lines, support local Black and POC-owned restaurants and businesses, and donate to local organizations who work tirelessly to support Black liberation. Allegra’s quote to live by is, “Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.'" She is passionate about building community and ensuring that in the fight for justice and liberation, we never forget that joy is also a form of resistance.

Fields Episode 12: Alexis Mena: Universe City and Afro-Indigenous Food Sovereignty: How are Universe City and Grow Brownsville helping community members grow their own food, invent their own technologies, and push back against gentrification? Learn about the inspiring farm-tech co-op Universe City from one of its founders—multidisciplinary farmer, chef, and artist Alexis Mena. Universe City is Brownsville and East New York’s first aquaponic farm, food hub, and maker space. In this space, farmers grow fish and greens and teach growing skills. Universe City is collecting funds to expand their already impressive operation through a campaign called Grow Brownsville. Alexis talks about the importance of their Afro-Taino heritage, how to make and keep places for community use, and why it’s so important that kids in Brooklyn see tech innovation happening in their own communities. 

Inside Julia’s Kitchen Episode 139: Meet Toni Tipton-Martin Again: Host Todd Schulkin welcomes the 2021 Julia Child Award recipient Toni Tipton-Martin. The award-winning food journalist, historian, author and soon-to-be PBS host discusses what the Award means to her, recognizing African American culinary contributions, and how she will use the $50,000 grant that accompanies the award to inspire the next generation of food writers and chefs. Her 2019 award-winning cookbook Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking was adapted from historical texts and rare African-American cookbooks and its 125 recipes paint a rich, varied picture of the true history of African-American cooking: a cuisine far beyond soul food.

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