Amplify Your Voice
Following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May 2020, a reignited anti-racism movement highlighted the impacts of systemic racism on communities of color, which are most affected by police violence and have been disproportionately burdened by COVID-19. After internal discussion with staff, Hot Bread Kitchen released our statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Realizing the desire and importance for open space for conversation, with the help of external consultants the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Allyship Committee developed and launched a series known as “Amplify Your Voice.” Amplify Your Voice was an opportunity for Hot Bread Kitchen staff, small business owners, and breadwinners to come together and discuss feelings, experiences, and anti-racism practices to embed in our personal and professional lives. Participants reported feeling “depressed”, “worried”, and “frozen” prior to discussion, but afterwards chose “purpose”, “hopeful”, “confident”, “peace”, and “focused” to describe their state of mind.
Building off of this enriching experience, we will continue to hold regular conversations for staff, program members, and stakeholders to discuss current events and anti-racist practices.
Breaking Bread, Building Bonds
Building on what we accomplished with Amplify Your Voice, Hot Bread Kitchen is pleased to be working with the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on a new initiative called “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds.” In partnership with the New York Peace Institute and The People’s Supper, this initiative involves hosting a virtual dinner where diverse participants can speak openly about personal experiences to build commonality and learn from each other.
Originally planned as a series of 100 in-person dinners, these meetings went virtual in May following the COVID-19 pandemic. Hot Bread Kitchen’s dinner, held on November 19th, 2020 brought together stakeholders from across our organization—workforce members, an employer partner, and a food entrepreneur—to share their experiences at a common table.
The evening began with the reading of “An Invitation to Brave Space” as well as conversational ground rules to establish an environment of openness and trust. We then introduced ourselves by talking about the history and story behind our names.
Some themes and stories that were shared:
- Shared immigrant experience: regardless of level of work experience or accomplishment there was a shared connection over feelings of being “the other” or having imposter syndrome, and commonalities around feelings of isolation when first coming to NYC/ USA
- Lack of American understanding of their real history: “Why do Americans see me as less than if we are all immigrants on stolen land?”
- Bravery of the immigrant experience: leaving people behind for new unknown land, many had educational degrees in home country that they left behind to start over.
- “I work really really hard to just be considered.” As a woman in the culinary industry, someone shared she works hard to get all the extra certifications, training, and exposure in order to get what is easily given to her male counterparts
- Discrimination in everyday ways or when you least expect
We are excited to participate in future dinners and events designed to bring people together, and invite anyone interested to fill out the interest form online.