Side note : I am going to turn my experiences in kitchens into a book. Consider this an excerpt.
“In 2014, a world filled with human resource departments and racial “equality” training kitchens are still the most uncomfortable places to work as a black woman. My dream is to be a chef, and in our industry you have to work your ass off in a kitchen to get any recognition. That’s why I stay, for the recognition, but it’s not easy. At all. In kitchens (at least the five I’ve worked in) racism, sexism, sexual harassment and straight out disrespectful bullying are normal, even encouraged. I’m a double whammy. Black and female. I must work three times as hard as anyone to be recognized for the hard work. I must face two times as much ignorance as anyone else. While I’d love to give them a big fuck you very much, the experience is the only thing that’ll separate me from the pack.
I have worked in places were minor (under the age of 18) hostesses are too afraid to go to the kitchen because the kitchen manager leer and makes provocative sexual comments. In places were kitchen managers will never promote a person of color even though they obviously work harder than all employees. In kitchens were one mistake is met with passive aggressive behavior not awarded to white counterparts . I have worked in kitchens were white males will go around yelling “I hate niggers” at the top of their lungs. No one seems to realize that they’re being hurtful or inappropriate. That or they don’t care. Those who stand by and allow this behavior are just as bad as those who commit.
At my current job I’ve been called ghetto girl, sassy black girl, and the best ‘nigger’. These are just a few examples of the roses I smell in my personal paradise. I’ve had to listen to the racist soliloquies of white staff members against other staff members and guests. I’ve been the Centre of a joke that solely relies on my race and the desire of a creepy 50-year-old man who refers to women as “hot chocolate”. There is no remorse, there is no mercy. I am constantly riddled with stereotypes I don’t fit and when I react to these racist approaches I am met with shock and sometimes hurt. The idea that not everyone is willing to be a lap-dog to their ideals doesn’t sit well with them. Any response mirroring the racism I face on a daily basis is met with outrage and discomfort. “Why don’t you tell management?” I have, several times, even owners only to have three managers make openly racist quips in my direction.
The problem with kitchens isn’t the hard work or the long hours. Hell, even the lazy assholes are easy to deal with. The problem with kitchens is the ignorance and the unwillingness to change it. If you are a ‘POC’ in a kitchen you have surely experienced this. You have come across casual racist statements about your race or another person’s race. I am reminded every day without fail of my race. Now not all people in kitchens are racist but a majority of them are. Not all are sexual predators but most are. Not everyone in a kitchen is a down right asshole but most are. I stand by that. It’s allowed. It’s acceptable. It’s standard. I have heard kitchen managers state that “there is no such thing as sexual harassment in kitchens”.
Its’s a pity to want to chase your dreams and you must endure a nightmare. Will this change? I’m doubtful. Even when you openly express your disgust, the malice continues on. It’s a shame to think that there are many people out there who are capable of becoming some of the greatest culinary masterminds of our generation but they never will because they can’t deal with kitchens because kitchens won’t deal with them. However I won’t allow that to be my fate, I won’t allow another humans repulsive ways hinder my success. I’ll continue to loudly express my distaste. I’ll loudly express my thoughts and opinions. This will be a continuous saga and I will chronicle my experiences so that maybe one day, someone somewhere will hear me. So that one day a young black female with aspirations like mine will be able to chase her dreams and not have to wonder why she must endure unnecessary bullshit. They will here me, us, in these dark kitchens.”