For me, that’s what it takes to shift things. I read this email from “Good Food Jobs” about their failure to be racially inclusive and I was struck by the courage and humility that it took to write it. I aspire to both inspire and engage in this level of honest dialogue about racial diversity with my work. Thank you Taylor and Dorthy for stepping up.
You can see it below====
Yesterday, we watched the president’s inauguration, on the holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What a beautiful confluence of events. And the perfect reminder that we at Good Food Jobs need to start an important conversation about diversity.
That’s right: we’re calling ourselves out.
Our belief in equality for all couldn’t be more sincere, but it’s come to our attention over the past several months (thanks to some initial nudging from Nicole Taylor and some recent heated debates on the COMFOOD listserve) that despite our desire to support a fair food system, we at Good Food Jobs have not done a good enough job of telling the stories of everyone involved.
Scroll through our Gastrognomes blog and the absence of ethnic diversity is embarrassingly clear. How could we have missed it? While our profiles are technically ‘color blind’ (we usually don’t know a person’s ethnicity until we have already profiled them), they also appear to be color bland.
Because we have not actively excluded anyone, we assured ourselves that, ipso facto, we must be including everyone. Our mistake is right before our eyes. Issues of equality and inclusion are deep-rooted, based not on individual or obvious acts of exclusion, but in standard cultural conventions. It just so happens that when people remain within their comfort zones and deal only with what they know best, that a natural rift can occur. But the path to changing it starts with awareness (thanks to Nicole for being the first to bring it to our attention), the ability to apologize for a mistake (however unintentional, we are deeply sorry), and the effort to figure out how we can change it (this newsletter is just our first step).
There’s a reason that people generally don’t venture out of their comfort zones: it’s uncomfortable! We’ve talked in circles and wrung our hands over the best course of action for creating real change. Profiling individuals based on their skin color seems counterintuitive, yet avoiding that selection criteria is the same as ignoring the problem. We find our gastrognomes as a result of old-fashioned, organic networking. We follow up on requests, we make connections with people who write to us out of the blue, and when we hear of folks that are doing good food work, we introduce ourselves and ask them to share their story. But clearly our networks keep feeding us people just like us. So how do we break out of that cycle?
That’s where you come in. As usual, we are putting our faith in the community of readers we have come to rely on for support and feedback. Are you a person of color who also does great work in food? Or do you know someone who is? We want to hear from you. Why? Because of your skin color or because of the work that you do? Both.
So what’s the worst that could happen? We’re afraid you’ll be insulted. Appalled. We’re afraid you’ll scoff at our naivete. But isn’t that how comfort zones were created? Out of fear of what might happen if we got a little uncomfortable? Today we’re confronting that fear, and we’re asking you to join us.
We are all familiar with the ease with which people cast off the good food movement as something reserved for the rich, privileged, and/or elite. We believe that these boundaries can be broken down. We believe that change is possible, with vision and the courage to implement it. We believe in equality, and we have devoted our personal and professional lives to ‘doing good’ and challenging conventions. Are we at Good Food Jobs perfect? Far from it. Do we hope to continually grow and improve? Yes, indeed. Are these conversations uncomfortable? At first. But are we glad they happened? Emphatically, yes.
Our door is always open to suggestions, recommendations, and constructive criticisms. We hope you’ll accept our faults as unintentional, and respect our desire to fix them.
We leave you with Seth Godin’s email newsletter message from a few days ago, which particularly resonated with us:
It’s possible that Peter Parker was uninformed.
Organizations tend to view “responsiblity” as doing the safe, proven and traditional tasks, because to do anything else is too risky. The more successful they become, the less inclined they are to explore the edges.
In fact, organizations with reach and leverage ought to be taking more risks, doing more generous work and creating bolder art. That’s the most responsible thing they can do.
Taylor & Dorothy
Co-Founders, Good Food Jobs