I woke up this morning with over 400 new followers on Instagram . All but a few were not black and many of them are brands and bloggers who I have followed for a while.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Amaud Arbery, and the past injustices against black people have called for white people to show up in ways that hadn’t been required in the past. And by past, I mean last month. The #BlackLivesMatter posts and increased following on our social media has been nice but now, it is time to actually do the work that will start dismantling racial inequalities within the food blogging community. I along with several other amazing, creative, and talented food bloggers are asking you to take your commitment to the movement a step further by featuring and building relationships with the black food community.
This means becoming an ally: someone who is willing to take action in support of another person, in order to remove external barriers that prevent that person from contributing their skills and talents in that community.
So how can you be an ally to black voices in the food blogging community? I am going to share seven ways to help you get started. To be clear this post is for white and non-black people who are choosing to check their privilege and racial bias, while standing with black people to dismantle racism in and outside of the food blogging community. I invite food bloggers, food publications and editors, event planners, PR agencies, test kitchens, and anyone occupying space in the food industry to read this post and start doing the work.
7 Ways to be an ally to black food bloggers:
1. Subscribe to our mailing lists
As we know, it all goes down in the email. This is where many bloggers share information on new programs, cooking and baking challenges, product launches, major announcements, lifestyle changes, and solicit support for crowdfunding projects. We rely on our mailing lists because subscribers are dedicated people within our communities who we can directly speak to without the noise of social media. If you’re not on our mailing lists, then you’re only getting a glimpse of our story and we, like you, have so much to share.
2. Make our recipes and leave reviews
As food bloggers we know the power and importance of reviews on our recipes. If you’re looking for a chocolate cake recipe or any other recipe, challenge yourself to seek out black blogs on your next search for recipes. This is an easy action that will help us black food bloggers appear in Google searches. Search #BlackFoodBloggers on Instagram and find us.
3. Ask us to speak at food blogging conferences, workshops, and panels
I can probably count on one hand the number of food blogging conferences that feature MORE THAN ONE black food blogger in their speaker line up. It’s not okay and that needs to change immediately. There are too many black food bloggers in this space who deserve to have the opportunity to share their expertise in the areas of SEO, social media engagement, affiliate marketing, food photography and styling, and recipe creation. Before you plan a conference and confirm your speaker line up, make it your business to ensure that black people are at the table and our stories are fully represented.
4. Invite us to industry events
Event planners, restaurant owners, and PR agencies SEEK US OUT AND PUT US ON YOUR INVITATION LISTS. This is how we build relationships outside of social media and create inclusive opportunities. This is where we begin to see each other, see color (because you need to), and see the value that black people bring to the food blogging industry and space.
White food bloggers who are always invited to food events:
This is an opportunity for you to request a plus one and bring your black food blogger friend. Another way to ensure black food bloggers are included and represented is to get on the phone with event planners who you have a relationship with and challenge them to update their invites to include more black food bloggers. If you receive push back then ask yourself if this form of racism goes against your passion for being an ally to your black friends. It does.
5. Feature us in print & online publications
I challenge all food publications to set aside three hours this week to review your black blogger and food business features from 2019 in comparison to your white and non-black features in 2019. We are underrepresented for 11 months straight and then exploited during Black History Month. We are ignored and overlooked until you need authentic black recipes with a black person attached to it and we are tired of that. If you choose not to celebrate our culture, food, and creativity throughout the year, it is a slap in the face to use us for clicks and engagement during one our most proudest months.
So if you want to be an ally, check these publications who choose to not amplify black voices on their platforms. If you’re an editor or occupy a space where these decisions are made, make it your business to remove the barrier to entry for black food bloggers and experts who deserve the same features and opportunities. Lastly, if there are no black voices at the table, change that.
6. Check your tone
Growing up black, this was a common phrase our parents would say to us when we were getting out of line. So I’m challenging you to check your tone when you speak about black people in and outside of the blogging community. However, the only way to perform an effective tone check is to form a genuine relationship. How can you effectively speak to a black audience about food if you don’t know us, our food, or culture? We saw that with Bon Appetit this past February when they posted their Black History “celebration” titled, My Big Black Weekend in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights *blank stare*. Even though the article was written by two black editors, it was tone deaf and didn’t celebrate the heart & soul of food through the black experience. So again, challenge and confront these brands, publications, media outlets, and even your own blogger friends when they get out of line. Also, you don’t need to ask a black person if something is racists or offensive to the black community. If you feel it in your gut, then correct it.
7. Purchase our products
I can’t even begin to count the courses and presets that black food bloggers have purchased from white bloggers in hopes of learning and curating an Instagram feed that looks “good enough” to be featured on major platforms. So now that you’re following a ton of black food bloggers pay attention when they launch an ebook, a spice blend, kitchen products, or a cookbook. If they have a Patreon account, throw a few dollars their way.
I implore you to start having these conversations with your friends, colleagues, families, and even check in with yourself regularly or daily. Understand that these are just 7 Ways to be an ally to black food bloggers to help you get started on your path toward genuine allyship. I encourage you to continue to use your platform to amplify black voices in spaces where we are underrepresented and our voices go unheard.
Do your research, get creative, and approach your commitment with intention and purpose because black lives matter and so does our content.
Share this, pin it, have the conversations.