A letter by Heather Bublick, co-owner, with her husband Chef D'Andre Carter, of Evanston-based catering companies Feast and Imbibe and Soul and Smoke. Since the pandemic began, Heather and D'Andre and their staff have tirelessly prepared hundreds of meals every single day to help feed families in need and frontline healthcare workers.
As a white woman of privilege, it is of course my duty to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. The fight for true racial equality however, is not only a fight, that is long overdue and necessary, but for me, it’s incredibly personal.
I have written this 20 times, and it will never be perfect, or truly convey every feeling I have.
While I can never fully understand the complete Black experience, I do have a front row seat. I have a Black husband, a Black grandmother, a Black mother, a Black sister, Black aunts and uncles, Black cousins, and an amazing, smart and kind Black niece. I have a Black daughter, who I hope grows up to be whatever she wants to be, and I had a Black son, who I used to worry about growing up and being too tall, too intimidating, or having too deep of a voice. I’d be wrong if I sit quietly and didn’t share.
When I started dating D'Andre, I had people close to me ask “what will people think, if you have kids?”
I’ve watched while D’Andre has been pulled over and talked to like he was less than a human. We sat in silence, just saying yes, sir, and scared for any wrong move. He told us he wasn’t born yesterday, and accused D’Andre of being on drugs. It was about a month after Philando Castile was murdered and we were in Southern Illinois, driving back from a quick trip to see family in Texas. We later found out that the city we were stopped in was known for this, and we were written a ridiculously bogus ticket, that ended up costing us almost $5,000.
While we would have loved to have spent that on a vacation, we are thankful that we had the means to take care of it, and know how many Black men have been erroneously pulled over and didn’t have that privilege.
I’ve seen our customers assume that D’Andre isn’t our chef, and even after correcting them, they continue only talking to one of our white cooks.
I’ve gone out to fancy truffle dinners with D’Andre and have been asked if we were looking for the cafe next door. And even once we sat down, watched as the Chef said hello to every table but ours. I was condescendingly explained what caviar was, and at the end of the dinner when they realized who we were, they apologized that chef was gone, and sent out a sous chef, who apologized for their behavior.
Living on the North Shore, when we look for places to live, we consider if the block is ready for its first Black family and how we’ll be perceived. Will they be okay if we play music in the backyard? How will they feel when our family and friends come over and it’s not just D’Andre and our mixed kids?
It’s making sure that when we schedule staff for an event, that we don’t have too many Black people going, because we don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable in their homes. And yes, this is a real thing we’ve been told.
As a Black-owned business, we’ve been asked to provide a more diverse staff next time. Got it.
Need more White faces.
Oh and representation matters. As you may know, my daughter wears top knots. The company we buy them from started selling doll top knots a few months ago and the moms went crazy for them. Because representation matters. Seeing yourself in your doll matters. Seeing yourself on TV matters. Seeing yourself as president matters.
Seeing yourself. It’s not lost on me that my two-year-old daughter who everyone loves as a mixed baby, will one day, be a grown Black woman. You can call her mixed, if you’d like, but in this country we all know that’s not true.
Call it the brown-paper-bag test, or the one-drop rule, when people see her, she will be a Black woman.
How do you raise a strong, independent-thinking daughter, when you also don’t want her to be seen as an angry Black woman when she shares what she’s passionate about with the world?
Smart, educated, passionate Black women are silenced everyday.
I don’t have the answers, but acknowledging systemic racism is certainly the first step. D’Andre and I know how privileged we are, and we still encounter racism daily. Racism is happening all around you. I worry about what school I’ll send my daughter to and how she’ll fit in.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg.
I understand that life is hard right now, and everyone wants to go back to life as normal. However, Black people can’t return to their old normal. They need something to change. They can’t do it for another day, and shouldn’t have to. While we’re all at home, now is the time to ensure that the world becomes a better place after quarantine is done being a hashtag.
Please be sensitive to tone deaf posts. It’s too soon to see people going about regular life, like the rest of us aren’t hurting.
Please understand that the Black community is hurting. It’s raw. We’re mourning, we’re sad and we’re angry, we are traumatized.
If you are a police officer and you don't believe you are racist, and you know that there are racist cops, it is your job to report it. Who else are they going to listen to? Or does the public only find out that a cop was a bad cop after he kills somebody? Your supervisor is the problem? Then why do you work and take orders from them? Don’t be the next Tou Thao. You have the most amount of power to effect change. REPORT THE BAD COPS!
To everyone else. Stand up. Do something. Say something. Don’t just send a Black neighborhood canned goods this week and turn your Instagram black. Mean it. Be about it. Say it. Don’t tip toe around it.
Look at your favorite places and their management teams, owners, the culture.
Spend your money with companies you can truly support.
We’ve all just learned to shop local, think about what that truly means and who you’re supporting. Shop Small. Support a family business.
Together we can make the world a better place.