The reaction to my story about Chef Marcus Samuelsson is pretty much the same across the board, he was a jerk and I should’ve returned the book.
I can’t say I feel the same. I still respect the guy, I think where he’s at in his career is outstanding and I love his food philosophy.
I believe his response to me was definitely a product of stereotyping, but I don’t think for a second it was intentional or meant to be demeaning or disrespectful. I just don’t think he was aware that what he said could very easily be taken that way.
He’s the one that brought up a woman’s struggle in the kitchen. He’s aware of the issue. But he’s not conscious, he’s not present. He doesn’t have any experience of being a woman in the kitchen.
If anything, it made me feel like I could actually relate to the guy.
As the internet and blogs explode with social justice essays, opinions on white privileged, male privilege, basic rights, and any race or sex related issue, more and more people are seeking out how they can better educate themselves.
I’ve personally been reading essays, both in blog form & in scientific journals, I seek out this information regularly. My problem isn’t finding resources, it’s finding conversation. It’s finding that discussion. I am the only one of my friends remotely interested in this stuff, so I’m not getting anything out of speaking with them except preaching experience. I am reminded of how I’ve failed my beliefs in the past or, worse, I catch some shit for trying to be “perfect.”
Basically, the entire point is being missed. And it’s not just my friends.
When I mentioned the desire to find a community that wasn’t going to shun or shame me, this is exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve kept pretty quiet because putting my ignorance out there and asking for help is like standing in front of a firing range pleading your case. Although you’re there for the same purpose, there’s a severe superiority complex from everyone that’s outspoken about it. No one wants to give you the time of day, they’d rather rip you apart. They will write essay upon essay about how ignorant white girls are with feathers in their hair, but none of them seem to be in the business of reaching out and creating change.
Pointing out the issues is very important, but without providing means of educating or creating a safe place for discussion, all you are is another whiny blogger on a soapbox.
That being said, I don’t believe it is anyone’s responsibility to police blogs and educate the ignorant. I do believe, if you’re an avid writer on the topic, that it would be a good idea to create a community that is a little more open. Especially if someone comes to you seeking advice.
I’m probably going out on a limb, but I believe Samuelsson’s comment stems from the same issue. You can be well-versed in all of society’s issues, but unless you’re talking about it, challenging your own discrimination and ingrained racism/sexism, you’re not gaining anything but facts. When you’re nothing but book smart, you make mistakes like asking a female if she’s in pastry or assuming the bad driver ahead of you is Asian. You’re aware, but you’re not conscious and you don’t have any experience.
That’s where Samuelsson is. He’s aware that women are discriminated against, but he’s not conscious of his actions. He doesn’t know that a question as simple as, “pasty?” is offensive because he’s never been a woman in the kitchen.
Here I am - I’m aware, but I’m not conscious, and I most certainly don’t have any experience being anything but a white woman. I have a desire to learn, I have a desire to be challenged, and I have the desire to improve.