"People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that commemorates the birthday of this civil rights hero. In this single post, I can't do justice to the vast work of Dr. King but want to at least write something which attempts to epitomize the spirit of Dr. King. And of course, I want to tie it into the world of food and drink. The above quote is pertinent in many ways, in many different realms and industries. It encourages us to reach out and converse with others, to learn more about each other so we fail to fear others out of our ignorance.
In the Boston+ area, food & drink writers need to embrace more diversity, to reach out and connect with others who are different from them. We need to have more communication with others, to expand our circles so that we can understand others better. We have to break down the artificial barriers that separate us, which can be taken down so easily if only we want them to vanish. And we have to work together to take down other barriers which are more real and not as easily vanquished. Rather than fear and ignorance, we need to be more welcoming and knowledgeable. We need to offer each other assistance, to help us all grow in various ways.
For example, though there are hundreds of food & drink bloggers in the Boston+ area, the number which are written by people of color is extremely low. I've previously highlighted some of those writers, which unfortunately is a very short list, though I'm also sure that my list isn't complete. I've also previously written about my disappointment at the lack of diversity in numerous food and drink events I've attended over the years. Obviously people of color love food & drink just as much as anyone else so how do we encourage more of them to blog and attend local events? One way to do so is for us to communicate more with others, to open ourselves to people who are different from us. We should actively seek new experiences and provide support, assistance and mentoring to others who are open to it.
As another example, food and drink writers need to seek out more diversity in the subjects they wrote about, to break out of their comfort zones and communicate with others who are different from them. Interview, highlight and feature more people of color who are chefs, cooks, restaurant owners, wine makers, winery owners, etc. Maybe you feel uncomfortable talking with these people, or visiting their places, but you need to get over it, and just do it. Confront your fears and you'll find there was no reason for fear in the first place. Visit some parts of Boston you don't normally visit, which might be places such as Roxbury and Dorchester, and check out the culinary wonders going on in those areas.
Break out of your circles of comfort and reach out to people outside those circles. Push aside your fears and misconceptions and get a first hand experience with others. We all can do our part to unify rather than divided, and the first step is communication, just talking with others, learning about their experiences and points of view. It's all very simple and the benefits can be enormous.