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Inclusive Kitchen: Tackling Systemic Racism – Q&A with Chef Philman George

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This is the second installment in a series of articles on tackling systemic racism. You can read the first installment of “Inclusive Kitchen: Tackling Systemic Racism”, a Q&A with BLACK FOODIE founder, Ellen Asiedu here.

This week, we’re speaking with Chef Philman George, who will also be present on the upcoming Inclusive Kitchens panel at RC Show 2021. As Corporate Chef for High Liner Foodservice, Philman George will be lending his seafood expertise to RC Show 2021 on the Culinary Stage‘s ‘Seafood is Better To-Go’ and the ‘It’s Back…The Alaska Wild Throwdown’ workshops.

We sat down with Chef Philman to delve into the subject of fostering an anti-racism environment:

What’s the first action an employer should take to ensure that they are fostering an anti-racist work environment?

Ensure that the entire leadership team goes through anti-oppression training from a trusted source. Ideally, this is done in a group setting and is facilitated by a trainer who has experience setting the stage for uncomfortable conversations. Large organizations must ensure the board of directors goes through the same training.

What type of non-performative actions can allies in the industry take?

An ally will mostly stand with an individual or a group to show support for a cause, but rarely has anything to lose in the process. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group and will use their privilege and power to challenge the status quo, often risking their physical and social well being in the process. We need more accomplices! 

How can members of the BIPOC community rest and recover in order to save their energy and mental health?

My ancestors did not get the privilege of rest while fighting for justice. When I’m weary I call on their spirit for strength and guidance. Work smart vs. working hard. In the fight for social justice know your own strengths and limitations and be realistic with your approach and methods.

Where does the food media need to place more energy/effort / give more attention?

Nothing will change until those in positions of authority in mainstream media see the true value of diversity. Give us the spotlight not because you are mandated to, but because without our stories you will not be able to reach higher heights.

How can food be used as a form of resistance?

No jollof, no oxtail, no jerk, no candied yams, until you prove you’re not a racist.

What practices can employers begin to implement to address and fix the systemic racism issues that affect our industry?

Hire more people who look like me in positions of true authority.

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