Recently, in an editor’s note to the readers of Catersource magazine, I addressed my approach to diversity and inclusion when I choose speakers for the show, or what I publish on any of our online forums. I thought it would be good to let you all know as well.
First off, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a very short bike ride to the epicenter of the George Floyd protests on Lake Street, near the Third Precinct. In my editor’s note, I said that on the day after Mr. Floyd’s death I received a t-shirt in the mail—I had ordered it the week before to support a (now closed) James Beard award-winning restaurant and adjoining retail outlet. I liked the sentiment it touted. “Cold hands, warm hearts. Northern Hospitality.”
I said I still believe this statement to be true about my city and state, despite its ugly history leading up to—and after—that tragic, transformative day and ensuing unrest. Here are some of the reasons why:
I have such respect for chef/owner Ruhel Islam, owner of a (now destroyed) Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant called Gandhi Mahal, a man who embraces a lifestyle of peace and nonviolence who said, “Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served.”
I have such respect for Chris Montana, of Du Nord Craft Spirits, one of very few Black distillery owners in the U.S., tear gassed while handing out hand sanitizer. His warehouse and spirits were damaged greatly in the fires. He started the Du Nord Craft Spirits Riot Recovery Fund with an opening goal of $30,000. He has now raised over $750,000 to help in rebuilding efforts.
I have such respect for Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, who set up a kitchen on Lake Street’s Midtown Global Market to make indigenous meals in conjunction with Second Harvest Heartland, for those in need.
All Minneapolis BIPOC business owners who epitomize, “warm hearts.”
All of this leads back to my saying that while I have personally tried my best to promote diversity and inclusion within my content, nowhere did it actually say that publicly. So here you go:
Special Events is dedicated to creating a safe space for all and supporting underrepresented voices and work in the industry through a variety of programs and partnerships. This includes providing blog space on specialevents.com, ensuring that BIPOC catering and event professionals are featured in our content, and placing qualified industry professionals of all races, religions, and color on our conference stages.
We also recognize that these efforts must be ongoing and evolving. We are committed to actively deepening our relationship and support of organizations that serve these communities and encouraging diversity in our content providers.
Have a lovely week.