What can I share about diversity that can help change our system? What legitimacy do I have, as a white woman, working in one of the most prestigious universities in the world, in the culinary space, where being French gets me a lot of nice comments on my accent?
I have a story I humbly want to share, about how working in a diverse, inclusive environment has made me grow.
In the culinary world, French cuisine is viewed as the gold standard. I even read once that French invented the culinary art. We definitely praise ourselves for it, and being born in this culture, it is hard for me to be objective on the reality of this assumption, and even harder to want to be. However, moving in America was a realization that other cuisines could challenge this statement. Working with Chefs from very different countries, I discovered the deliciousness of American Southern Soul Food, Filipino cuisine, Mexican food, Asian flavors… And more about the culinary art from Filipino, Mexican, Indian, and American chefs than I did when I lived in France.
I also realized that I am very ignorant in other culture’s cuisines. VERY. In particular about African and African American cuisine. What does make American Southern cuisine so unique? Where does it come from? Why is it called “Soul Food”? Who are the best Black American chefs? Where do they find their inspiration?
Being able to meet so many different people, learn from so many different culture, on a topic I thought was my country’s true heritage to the world, has humbled me and made me want to be more literate, curious, and open.
I also realized that it has only happened because this diversity is intentional. Because the organization I work for has made positive action to “Value and Embrace Diversity and Inclusion“, and which first Core Value is Respect.
I don’t want color to matter. I want to live in a world where opportunities come from hard work, curiosity, honesty, and kindness. Not from being white or French.
Unfortunately, color matters.
Making organizations more diverse and inclusive allows everyone to grow, in particular people who think they don’t need it… Or don’t realize that they do. There are many things we can do further to increase equity in our world, but it starts with being able to meet, listen, and learn from each other.