NPR

Breaking The Bubble Of Food Writing: Cultivating Diverse Stories

The world of food is vast, but we tend to hear about the same cuisines over and over again. So how do we tip the scales in favor of more diversity among food writers?
Americans are more curious about different cuisines than ever before. But who gets to write about these cuisines, and which ones get covered? Source: LA Johnson/NPR

In the late 1980s, a friend gave me a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "BLACK BY POPULAR DEMAND." That gift came during a time when strong expressions and affirmations of black identity enjoyed a surge of popularity not seen since the 1960s. I've been thinking a lot about that catch phrase in the context of the recent, vibrant discussions about the place of African-Americans in today's national food scene. For people of color who want to tell food stories, "Black by Popular Demand" poignantly exposes the twin challenges we face: getting the key decision-makers in mainstream food media (I call them "gatekeepers") to desire our stories, and getting our own communities to devour our work.

Except for those times we self-publish, food writers try to persuade gatekeepers to publish our work. Gatekeepers are those who determine what content will go in magazines, newspapers, radio shows or websites; those who decide which

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