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A Twitter Thread: 'empty diversity'


So I got some thoughts. After reading the James Beard Awards efforts to find ways to combat inequality and inequity (and reading about another award that has said they want diversity but clearly had no time t say how/ have a mission statement). Let's talk about 'empty diversity'

*firstly, empty diversity is a term brought to my attention by Chryssy Hunter, who's PhD title used it - and she will be much better than I to explain it fully, but I'm going to adopt it in terms of food and accolade.

Awards are important. They validate work. Awards currently are problematic, as I bang on about, hugely because they rely on criteria that confirms status quo and that understands value in very narrow terms. So yes, we need to widen our concept of what makes something 'excellent'

But. Awards are like tick boxes. They're really useful for people to feel like they're doing good. But they mean sweet fuck all if you don't assist with helping winners capitalise on their success.

You can say 'oh look. Top 5 best restaurants are diverse. There's no problem in the industry'. And disregard the full list. Or, the following year revert back to non-diverse. For example. This doesn't take away from the wonderful 5, but it's not diversity.

Also. Creating diverse spaces is something we have to work to, together. It's not up to a 'saviour' of an awarding body, or the voices of marginalised people. It's a dialogue. One where everyone will get shit wrong.

What I really liked and value is that the James Beard Awards is asking for advice. Reaching out. Knowing it's not gonna know the answers. Trying to find practical, *structural* changes. Structural changes is how a system can change.

I'm doing a lot of thinking on this, so may add to it later. But, my thinking on practicalities is that, those often unheard of voices, when they get awards they need to be supported to capitalise on those awards. They are less likely to have had opp / experience with platforms

Diversity comes when diverse faces and voices are being paid. Earning incomes off their expertise, just like the status quo. Ppl love to clap at award ceremony, but still give jobs to familiar faces.



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