Local food and drink industry members of color share their experiences, reflections, and commentaries on what still needs to happen in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Owner and chef at House of Gristle
The morning of the fires I had found myself being pulled towards the 3rd precinct. I didn’t have a plan about my day but my spirit was moved to head towards that direction.
I was met with a group of a couple hundred people who had positioned themselves in a line of demonstration along the side of the building. They were equally met with a line of police officers adorned in riot gear directly facing them.
I had walked amongst the crowd of chants and observed the many different faces of the people who were there to air their frustrations with the 3rd precinct. I couldn’t help but notice how many young people were there. I have demonstrated in many protests throughout my years and had noticed that I didn’t possess the same amount of energy to position myself along the front lines as I had in the past when I marched for Trayvon, Jamar, and Philando.
I had left the protest before the sun went down and by the time I made it home, Lake Street was on fire. I watched it burn for two days. The second night, I watched from the safety of my apartment and felt like I needed to do something. I needed to protect these kids. I knew immediately what impact this was going to have on our city. I also felt helpless and exhausted from having seen this over and over again.
I additionally felt my role in this movement had evolved. I am a nurturer and a provider. I made 100 pounds worth of oxtail tacos and I handed them out at the sacred space with my friends. The next day, 10 volunteers showed up and we quickly made sack lunches and distributed them around the city where there were various calls for food.
We mobilized and organized. More people were showing up and more food was being made. We ended up serving up 5,000 meals the first week. It was really chaotic. Seven days in and no day off, I had completely forgotten I had a real business to run. I was responsible for 20–30 volunteers and coordinating donations. Mind you, I had commandeered Justin Sutherland’s empty kitchen and kept asking for permission to stage there on a daily basis.
About a week and a half later, you could feel the energy start to wane, the donations begin to slow. I am concerned about this. I do not think people understand the long term effects this will have on us due to the current state of the pandemic as well. Once I realized that, I knew that it is not in the best interest of everyone to burn myself out. We are allowing ourselves days off now and are supportive of taking care of ourselves first so we can take care of others.
To be honest, I am grateful for what I have and the ability to serve others. THAT gives me all the energy I need. I want people to feel that. It heals you. I am honored to be asked to take part in honoring the life and legacy of George Floyd may his soul rest peacefully.
A Statement from Brewing Change Collaborative
Brewing Change Collaborative, BCC, was formed with the mission to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion for people of color in the brewing and beverage industry, through advocacy, outreach, and education. Since the inception, it has become so much more than that. It is a beautiful mosaic of people who hear and see each other. We support each other in our individual, and thusly conjoined, challenges and fights. We will not sit idly by while our brothers and sisters are suffering.
We encourage those who don’t know what to do or say, to say just that. There is a beginning in, “I don’t know, but I want to know and understand. Then I want to DO something about it.”
This is not, and cannot be, the end; something you “finish” and walk away from. This is an ongoing, unending fight against racial injustice and it starts with us. ALL OF US.
Co-Director of Brewing Change Collaborative & On-Premise Sales Rep for Fulton Brewing
How often do you take inventory of your breaths?
I’ve taken notice of EACH. INDIVIDUAL. BREATH. since George Floyd’s murder. First, because they came so painfully and sharply, without any real benefit to my body; doing as much good as someone blowing harshly on my face. They were ragged, and incomplete, like each one was a betrayal, my body struggling to accept them as much as the reminder that my skin is a perceived threat and weapon. Had we not just begun to mourn Ahmaud Arbery? Breonna Taylor? Thousands more?
How often do you ask yourself if you’re real?
Not the existential, “are any of us really here?” question. But the, “Do you see me? Can you hear me as I scream in pain?” question. The one where you realize that the majority of the people that you see on a daily, weekly, whatever regular basis, want more to speak on issues of “what about the craft beer industry?! And “what about the restaurants?!” than the most pressing, substantial issue of… “WHAT ABOUT MY SURVIVAL?”
The number of times that I copied and pasted a response from the clipboard on my phone to respond to the “How are you?” has been astonishing. The same goes for the “How are you now?” response. What a strange question, I think every time. Are you ready for the real answer? Are you waiting for this all to “blow over” so you don’t feel awkward? Is it uncomfortable for you to think that I’m weighing your words versus your actions, and evaluating whether your existence in my life is beneficial or harming me? I am.
The most recent reminder that being black in America is a crime, punishable by not just death, but public execution, is the single most painful thing I’ve had to force my mind to understand in my entire life. I won’t go into the pain of watching the innocence fade from my child’s face as I explained to her that the people she was taught to trust to protect her were actually the ones who would harm her.
Follow that with the understanding that the perceived sum total of your existence is something to be reduced to a hashtag, social media post, empty declaration of support, or conscious-clearing donation is disgusting. We got here by hundreds of years of subjugation and oppression but some think you can solve it by writing a check and posting a picture on Instagram for the likes. Think again.
I’m so proud of the courage that the BIPOC community has taken to stand, dangerously so, in the face of racial injustice. I’m relieved that we’ve been loud enough, joined by those jolted out of their comfort zones and willing to DO SOMETHING, for everyone to finally take notice. We’re done postponing justice. We’re done taking micro aggressions and unconscious racial biases as the acceptable norm.
Chioke Jones & Jennifer Ray-Jones
Homebrew Enthusiast & Certified BJCP Judge, respectively
So here we are. Weeks after the brutal death of George Floyd some of the emotions once raw are now smoldering. But in the aftermath, many are asking the same question: Where do we go from here?
Beer is the great social lubricant, the drink that brings us all together…or is it? Breweries have a storied history being a meeting place for communities. The place where class or politics didn’t matter when a pint of beer was placed in front of you. But while the diversity of craft beer and breweries have exploded, the range of representation of BIPOC in the industry has not.
The ability to see yourself in all aspects of the industry: In the brewhouse, on the sales team, in the hop farms, and behind the bar is a luxury often taken for granted especially when you’re used to being surrounded by people who look like you. While breweries are usually places of fun and relaxation, for people of color (Black people in particular) it can just be one more public place of isolation.
Breweries can help move society forward by seeking diverse hires, sponsoring education programs for BIPOC, becoming an active participant in communities of color, hosting anti-bias staff training, and using their platforms to drive change in the brewing industry and communities at large.
When diverse people, thoughts, and ideas are truly welcomed into the fold brewing gets better. WE get better.
In the wake of Minneapolis trending nationally for racial justice to actually take hold in America, it surprises me none that White people seem to want the people who have been complaining for years about the two different Americas to now console them for feeling bad about said treatment. As if I don’t already have to deal with microaggressions every day as a POC, now I have to be your therapist on how you treat me? It’s almost like we can’t win for trying!
and things will go back to the status quo as soon as there is another crisis.
It’s times like this that I reflect on the words of W.E.B. DuBois: “double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the type of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
I hope this change is real and stays, but bracing for things to remain the same.
Founder of Mojo Monkey Donuts
I WILL NOT HIDE
We are experiencing what I hope will be a revolution that will bring much needed change.
As a business owner, I’ve been aware that I’ve needed to stay “apolitical” because of concerns of hurting the livelihood of our shop. I can’t stay silent any longer. Business owners sometimes do, please stop. Speak up, speak out.
You’ve seen me as the woman-owner of a small business who has a permanent sun-kissed skin tone. You know me, you know my daughters who have worked at the shop and you know all our employees. You come because of a love for donuts, a strong cup of coffee and a sense of community. Thank you for coming. I hope you will continue to visit. FYI—I’m black. I didn’t just get back from Florida.
I’ve consciously decided to neglect sharing online that I am a black woman. Because my skin tone is in a range that passes for “white” I have been afforded the privilege of being able to look for an apartment, a house, apply for a loan or go shopping as a “white” woman. I’m not. I’m black.
To be able to hide my blackness is a privilege. I am able to escape many injustices because of the way that I outwardly look. The cruel reality of our society is that it punishes black individuals for being black.
As many of you know, I am sickened by the reckless murder of George Floyd, and all of the events prior that led up to his life being stripped away from him.
George might have stopped at our shop, we might have met. I hope we did. But I don’t need to have known him to know that what happened to him was predictable in our system.
That is extremely sad. Please make this change. I don’t want my children to live in the same system. Do you?
It is planted into our psyches from the day that we start learning, consciously AND subconsciously.
Each generation born under this flag is either stripped of opportunity or given star treatment based on the color of their skin.
I am tired of living in fear, and I am tired of hiding who I am, my identity, my culture. I am a black woman, a mother of three and a small business owner.
I am so thankful for the wonderful supporters our shop has, and I am thankful for my brilliant children for championing causes such as BLM. These people constantly inspire my belief that change is on the horizon. I’m confident that we will reach a turning point eventually, if not soon.
I will keep marching forward, keep hope alive, and keep making donuts in the aim of spreading at least a kernel of happiness to our community, whilst also supporting the livelihood of our hardworking staff.
Please, let’s all make this change together. It will not happen any other way.
Want to get involved in creating lasting change? There are hundreds of local organizations advocating for racial equity and social justice on many different fronts. This non-comprehensive list is meant to encourage readers to research and support a campaign that they are passionate about. Note: some organizations have been flooded with donations and are redirecting people to other organizations in need of support. –Brian Kaufenberg, Editor-in-Chief
Addressing wealth extraction through systems change and developing products and services that provide generational wealth-building opportunities and access to capital while providing an alternative to traditional predatory, culturally incompetent, and inequitable practices. abepmpls.org
Engaging African immigrants living in the north and northwest suburbs of Minneapolis to advance equity and eliminate disparities for the area’s large and growing African community. acerinc.org
Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence through building strategic campaigns, investing in Black leadership, and engaging in cultural and narrative organizing. blackvisionsmn.org
Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion for people of color in the brewing industry through advocacy, outreach, and education. brewingchangecollaborative.org
A cross-sector organization committed to strengthening the Minneapolis-St. Paul region’s civic infrastructure and collective capacity to disrupt systems and influence market forces to catalyze shared prosperity and advance an inclusive economy. centerforeconomicinclusion.org
Providing support for survivors of police brutality and families of victims and advocating policy reform through the Committee for Professional Policing, which is pushing to require police officers to carry professional liability insurance. cuapb.org
Communities Organizing Latinx Power and Action unites Latinxs in Minnesota in active grassroots communal democracy that builds racial, gender, social and economic justice across community lines. copalmn.org
Supporting and strengthening urban American Indian people through culturally-based education, traditional healing approaches, and leadership development. diw-mn.org
Its participatory fundraising and grantmaking programs prioritize community organizing that centers Black People, Indigenous People, and people of color. headwatersfoundation.org
Provides legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota, educates communities and professionals about immigration matters, and advocates for policies which respect the universal human rights of immigrants. ilcm.org
Working for the health and connectedness of Somali women and girls so they and their families can thrive in Minnesota and globally. With Isuroon, women and girls build their own health and wellness, economic self-sufficiency, community engagement, and leadership. isuroon.org
A member-based coalition of non-profit organizations working toward permanent change in racial, social, and economic justice by increasing civic engagement and voter participation across the state, especially focused in underrepresented communities. mnvoice.org
Reclaim the Block began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. reclaimtheblock.org
Committed to youth training, attainable housing, and workforce development in the Harrison neighborhood of North Minneapolis. redeemercenter.org
Supports families of victims of police violence, organizes peaceful demonstrations, and supports those who are fighting in courts and committees to get justice for their loved ones. Advocates for the establishment of an all-elected, all-civilian council with power over the police department to hire, fire, and prosecute cops. tcc4j.net
Strengthening the field of organizing in Minnesota by nurturing an ecosystem of restorative racial justice movements through a “soil tending” approach informed by local artist organizer Ricardo Levins Morales. voicesforracialjustice.org