This post originally appeared on June 13, 2020 in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.
Last week I mentioned that inclusivity is a pillar of our coverage and hiring practices at Eater, that we’ve long strived to diversify the bylines, stories, experts, and visual artists featured in our work. I also mentioned that our work is far from done.
There are some things I didn’t say because I was afraid it would come off as performative and, honestly, I thought it went without saying. But given what’s transpired in food media this past week and in America in the past two weeks and (of course) before that, perhaps it should be said.
Eater — the publication, the team, me — stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and everything it stands for. The injustice, racism, and hypocrisy on display over the past couple of weeks are nothing new. The protests, as powerful as they are, won’t erase them. But it’s important to take this moment to be unequivocal in what we stand for and clear-eyed about the systemic issues at play, while interrogating the actions we’ve been taking and plan to take to improve our work and culture.
I am really proud of the work we do at Eater and the culture we’ve built inside our organization. From the talent featured in our videos and TV shows to the speakers at our events, individuals highlighted in our Young Guns Awards and special section of the site, and writers and stories they choose to tell, I credit our team of editors, reporters, and producers with setting a high bar for mainstream food publications.
I also fully recognize Eater spent years centering a white upper middle class point of view. We centered whiteness. We centered wealth. We centered men. We tokenized chefs and cuisines. I don’t believe that I had a co-worker who wasn’t white during my first few years at Eater. We didn’t pay interns for years, which only allowed a certain class of individual through the door. I myself benefitted from a racist system, in terms of my education, opportunities, and ability to operate in various spaces of privilege.
I don’t recognize the Eater of 2008 in the Eater of 2020. But I know we still have an incredible amount of work to do. I wrote last week that it’s one thing to have a policy or guidance in a Google doc or talk about it in meetings, but it’s wholly another to hold our reporters, editors, hiring managers, and myself accountable every day. It’s not the moment for complacency.
So that’s what we’re working on now, making the informal formal. Finding ways to hold the gatekeepers accountable, not with new quotas but new mindsets. Interrogating why well-meaning recruiting policies aren’t getting us the right results. Questioning how and why we resource certain initiatives and people and not others. Educating ourselves at the top level to not just be progressive or empathetic or concerned but anti-racist in our approach. Expanding our networks.
There are a lot of great resources out there, but a good starting place for many readers here may be Studio ATAO’s study on tokenization in food media. Per their suggestion, I’m opening up my time to talk one-on-one with any emerging professional from a background that is underrepresented in food media to offer advice, guidance, and connections. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be back next week with the regular barrage of links.