Black lives matter and trying to be a better ally

This is a food blog, but this post is not about food. It’s about something much more important than that.

Like many of you, I’m devastated by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. Their deaths were a call to action to reflect and consider how I might be a better ally to the Black community. I support the Black Lives Matter movement and am committed to listening, learning, and taking action.

I wanted to start with learning. The last two weeks have been filled with introspection, reading, and meaningful conversations with friends and family. I’ve cared deeply about racial injustice for many years, but I know there’s a lot more I need to understand.

In that spirit, here’s a list of the resources I’ve personally found helpful, educational or thought provoking.

Nonprofits to donate to

  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund: The country’s first civil and human rights law firm, founded by Justice Thurgood Marshall
  • Equal Justice Institute: EJI works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality
  • Black Girls Code: Aims to increase the number of women in color in the technology and innovation industry through programs in computer programming, coding, and application-building
  • The Innocence Project: Aims to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reform the criminal justice system

Movies & shows to watch

  • 13th (Netflix): The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. This documentary by Ava DuVernay explores how that legal loophole has been used to criminalize African Americans and create a system of mass incarceration. I learned that on average, 1 in 3 Black males will go to jail in their lifetime. That’s horrifying.
  • When They See Us (Netflix): This haunting 4-part movie series by Ava DuVernay is a dramatized version of the true story of the Central Park Five: 5 brown and black men falsely accused of committing a brutal assault in Central Park. I won’t lie, I felt sick to my stomach watching this, but it forced me to confront the reality of what prison conditions and convict rehabilitation are like. Ava is a powerful storyteller.
  • Just Mercy (Amazon Prime): A true story about Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who’s dedicated his life to getting innocent people off death row. I loved the book, and the movie was just as good.
  • The Hate U Give (Cinemax, available through Hulu free trial): About a Black teen who witnesses the fatal shooting of her friend by the police on their way home from a party. I think I enjoyed this even more than the book.

Articles / Opinion pieces to read

Podcasts to listen to

  • 1619: I especially appreciated Episode 2, which details the capitalist underpinnings of slavery. I learned how even those who didn’t directly participate in the slave trade still benefited from it economically and how an increase in demand for cotton led more violence and harsher working conditions for slaves.
  • NPR’s Code Switch: Just getting into this but enjoying it a lot so far.

Books to read

  • Just Mercy (nonfiction): The true story of Harvard-trained lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his lifelong work to fight for innocent people on death row.
  • The New Jim Crow (nonfiction): Details the ways in which our criminal justice system is a new age caste system based on race.
  • How to be an Antiracist (nonfiction): Ibram X. Kendi’s premise is that it’s not enough to not be racist. You should be antiracist. His book details what that means. I’d recommend reading this one vs. doing an audiobook like I did.
  • Ghettoside (nonfiction): Incredibly gripping book by LA Times journalist Jill Leovy. She investigates why homicide rates among Black youth are so high in communities like South Central LA. tl;dr- it’s partially due to economics and being neglected by local police.
  • Americanah (fiction): Book about a Nigerian student who comes to America for college, then starts a blog on race relations in the U.S. and what it’s like to be African vs. African American.
  • Homegoing (fiction): A story of how the slave trade in the Gold Coast of Ghana impacted 2 sisters and their descendants in very different ways.
  • Small Great Things (fiction): Fictional book about a Black nurse who is unfairly accused of killing a White supremacist’s baby.

Instagram accounts to follow

Petitions to sign

SF Bay Area Black-owned restaurants & eateries to support

I know this section is different from the somber tone in the rest of this post, but I believe that one of the most important ways we vote is with our dollars. I’d be remiss not to mention some of my favorite Black-owned eateries.

  • Cheeseboard Collective: They make the most delicious vegetarian pizza. Don’t miss out on the green sauce!
  • Taqueria Los Mayas: Their burritos and quesadillas are delicious! Very veg-friendly too.
  • Anthony’s Cookies: My favorite cookies in San Francisco. Try the toffee chip!
  • Local Kitchen: Fun spot for happy hour or brunch, especially if you live in SOMA. Their pizza is good, but don’t skip the parmesan truffle fries.
  • Little Skillet: Southern food isn’t always veg-friendly, but this place has some great options. Try the veggie grits, skillet pancake, veggie biscuits and gravy, or delicious sides. Their cocktails are delicious too.
  • Bissap Baobab: This is a really fun place to go out dancing in the Mission.
  • Full list from the SF Chronicle. Looking forward to trying more of these!

What I’m looking into next

  • I want to better understand ALEC and the legislation they’ve influenced.
  • I want to better understand my portfolio and make sure I’m not inadvertently supporting prison corporations like Core Civic, which profit off of mass incarceration.
  • I’ve ordered the books Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Stamped from the Beginning, The End of Policing, I’m Still Here, and a few more. Planning to read those and discuss with friends.
  • I just ordered wine from a few local Black-owned wineries. Looking forward to sharing more about those soon.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading. If you have any other resources or perspectives to share, please do. I’d love to hear them.

With love,

Shreya

 

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