The Discomfort Zone

198F3999-6407-4551-A1A7-4A30BBA738E2

Have you looked in the mirror lately and thought about how much you’ve aged in the past year? Past 4? I watched Wanda Sykes’ Stand-Up special, “Not Normal” on @netflix the other night (highly recommend!), and she recounted a discernible observation—the major stress of the job as POTUS clearly has shown its effects on past presidents: Obama went full-on gray within 2 years as POTUS. George W. shrunk a few inches & Clinton grew a weird thing on his nose. She says in her act. Then she mentioned Trump, who has not aged at all. Why? “He’s on executive time. Trump hasn’t aged.” And then she said something even more profound—“But WE have. He is fucking us up. Everybody’s looking older. My God. HE IS FUCKING US UP.”

Damn. Ain’t that the truth? How many of you feel like you’ve aged a decade in this administration? Hell, the past 6 months? Stress has its obvious affects on us, whether it’s biting nails, teeth grinding, losing sleep, not eating, overeating —to more deeply rooted effects like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes. The list goes on and on. Like a disease, stress takes over our bodies and all its systems. Our Immune system (making us more susceptible to getting sick); our Musculoskeletal system (giving us headaches and migraines); the Respiratory system (heavy breathing, shortness of breath); Cardiovascular (the increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which in the long-term can increase the risk for strokes, heart attacks & hypertension). When the Endocrine system is affected it increases its production of glucocorticoids, including cortisol production of steroid “Stress hormones.” The overproduction of these hormones is directly linked to obesity & diabetes, among other diseases. The Gastrointestinal system and its moving parts are all affected from difficulty swallowing, heartburn-like symptoms, to nausea & vomiting and our bowels. The Nervous system (the pilot of our bodies) is central to all of this because it regulates the autonomic nervous system and interprets potential threats, signaling the other systems to react.

Stress is not good for any of us. And it’s hard to say, “don’t stress” while we’re in a global pandemic, a civil rights movement, a recession, and people are dying because of it. What I will say is this: love and hug your loved ones if you can, when you can. Express gratitude, spread kindness and love, meditate, smoke a bowl, make passionate love, eat healthy foods, watch movies with puppies and kittens, practice safe social distancing & fight the good fight—do what you gotta do to keep your body strong and in good health. We’ve got a lot more work to do, and we can’t really “work” if we’re sick.

Source material: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body

Someone’s Brother

When I think about the current state of affairs in the United States, I reflect on my emotions and how they’re directly correlated to the Five Stages of Grief. Denial—this isn’t permanent, right? Bargaining—if I have these uncomfortable conversations with close-minded people, maybe I can help educate them? Depression—it takes all of five minutes of reading the news or going through my social media feeds before I begin to cry of another injustice or another innocent person dying at the hands of a corrupt system. Anger—I believe I will never not be angry about all that is going on. Acceptance—I will never accept acts of racism, hate, oppression, or injustice. Never.

While myself and much of the world are mourning the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, I have also reflected on:

Sean Reed

Jamee Johnson

Antwon Rose

Kwame Jones

De’von Bailey

Jimmy Atchison

Willie McCoy

EJ Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr

Stephon Clark

Trayvon Martin

Michael Brown

Tamir Rice

Jordan Edwards

Oscar Grant

This is just a very small list of the hundreds of thousands of innocent African American male lives that were taken by the hands of racist cops, and that list doesn’t even include the women who lost their lives.

I mention these men specifically because they were all under 22 years old at the time of their deaths. They were younger or the same age as my brother who died in an accident 12 years ago. Today would’ve been his 34th birthday. Just like most of these young men and boys, my brother won’t ever be someone’s husband or father. They will never have wrinkles, gray hairs or laugh lines—the things we often take for granted, the physical signs that we have lived, the privilege and mementos of aging.

For the past few weeks my emotions have been heightened. I’m reliving the many times I’ve gone through the 5 Stages, again and again. And if you’ve ever experienced a great loss of life, you know that this cycle never ends. You never stop missing your loved one(s). You will never accept their death. A part of you will always be missing. That part left when they did.

I cry because the families of the names mentioned above are still grieving, too. Like me, they lost their brother or sister, child, or father. This is unacceptable.

In honor of my brother, I am making additional donations to Black Lives Matter and the following tagged organizations in his name. I strongly encourage you to do so, too, if you haven’t already.

So, if you are not fighting or listening and learning, protesting or donating, calling or E-mailing your local and state officials, or supporting BIPOC businesses,  I ask that you to do so now. This is the time we have to make a change. We cannot allow this to continue. If you don’t agree with me, and cannot find space in your heart to help fight for racial equality, then please, do yourself a favor and click that unfollow button right now. Please. Because one of the biggest life lessons I have learned in my grief, is to not waste a second more on those who don’t deserve my time.

Black Lives Matter.

Op-Ed: In a Time Of …

678FEAD0-553B-4661-B373-27EE61EBEF10

White privilege is real, and it has negatively impacted my entire life.

I got to thinking about every single time I’ve applied for a job and how apprehensive I was to include my blog URL. I’ve had to pause every time before I decided, because I knew that by clicking on that blog link I would be opening the door to disclosing my multiracial identity. I was scared that I wouldn’t be considered for the job because the color of my skin. Regardless of the fact that I earned my Bachelors in Communications from an accredited university or my Culinary Arts degree from (arguably) the best culinary school in the country, or even the fact that I’ve held management positions since I was 19 years old. That’s terrifying. I know I’m not alone in my apprehension or fears—how about my brothers and sisters  who have obvious non-white surnames?  But even then, I would still choose to disclose my identity because I want to be true to who I am. And you know what? Nine times out of 10, I didn’t get a call back. That’s disheartening for any BIPOC.

In recent years of recruiting restaurant staff, I can recall some of the résumés I’d receive that included their headshots. The common thread? All white women. What freedom! To not be fearful that they won’t be discarded by showing their face. That their cuteness and whiteness will help get them the job.

And then I started thinking about the previous jobs I did have, and how disproportionately I was paid in comparison to my white counterparts. That the white male dishwasher I once worked with made $4-$5 more than I did as a cook. (Side note: This is not bashing the dishwashing position. I actually started out as a dishwasher at that restaurant and have washed dishes at others. That job is not nor ever has been beneath me. It’s the hardest fucking job in the kitchen. I strongly believe the dishwasher is the most important job in the restaurant. Any respectable line cook or chef will agree.) But I can’t help but think that my lesser pay was directly correlated to my skin color and gender. Or when I worked in a mid-management position and my white female counterpart made $3/hour more than I did. I have no ill will toward any individual who ever made more than me. They are very fortunate. I take issue with those in power, the oppressors, who decided that I was not worth the same amount of pay. Would I have been paid equally if I was white?

As I look to the future of my industry, I can’t help but think of all the restaurants that are permanently closing due to the global pandemic and all the jobs lost, perhaps forever. Unemployment rates are at an unprecedented all-time high. The hospitality and food & beverage industry is deeply impacted—severely in Portland, a city known for its food. What does that mean for all of us? What does that mean for me and my fellow BIPOC? Now we must fiercely compete for those very few and far between jobs. I’m seriously scared. If we couldn’t get the same seat at the table then, how are we to expect or even imagine getting one now?

Here are some resources for further reading.

https://werepair.org/racial-disparity-food-equity-american-restaurant-industry/

https://www.eater.com/2015/10/22/9593482/study-people-of-color-paid-less-white-workers-restaurant-industry-roc

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/22/840276956/minorities-often-work-these-jobs-they-were-among-first-to-go-in-coronavirus-layo

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/22/450863158/the-startling-racial-divide-in-pay-for-restaurant-workers

https://www.motherjones.com/food/2019/05/california-restaurants-race-segregation-wage-gap-disparity-roc-alta-restaurant-group/

https://civileats.com/2020/05/05/people-of-color-are-at-greater-risk-of-covid-19-systemic-racism-in-the-food-system-plays-a-role/

Remembering Hollywoodland

CF266262-2300-47C2-A01F-B87078029C77
These past few weeks I’ve reflected on my personal past traumas and the traumas of my parents and ancestors. On my mom’s side, my grandfather’s two older brothers were the first to put down roots in the United States when they immigrated to Los Angeles in the 1940s after serving in the military helping the U.S. during World War II.

My grandmother (I never met my grandfather as he died before I was born) doesn’t talk about the bad things, like the segregation, prejudice and other challenges and hardships that they faced, but I would sometimes overhear some of those sad stories in whispers when I was a little girl (most of which I was too young to understand). The stories that they did share with us as kids were the good ones—like how my grandfather’s brother worked as a limousine driver in Hollywood and drove around many of its stars. My grandmother (who is turning 99 this year!) to this day still reminds us of her brother-in-law’s numerous stories of driving around Clark Gable to star-studded events and what a “classy and nice guy” he was to my granduncle. It seemed this acceptance and friendship he received from a big star like Mr. Clark Gable (which is how he would retell the story she says. It was always “Mr.” and not just “Clark”) are some of the happier moments he chose to share.

In keeping with part of my heritage, I hopped on the pancake cereal fad but turnt them up a bit and made ube pancakes instead. I used coconut milk and coconut oil to complement the ube flavors, but dang it I really wish I had some macapuno (young coconut) on hand!

==

Processed With Darkroom

Ube Pancake Cereal
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 cup flour (GF blend works if you’re gluten-free)
1/2 cup grated, mashed cooked ube
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2T agave or date syrup
1T flaxseed + 2.5T water put together to make a flax egg
1t coconut oil, melted (plus more for the pan)
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
1/2t baking soda

For serving:
Coconut milk
Vegan butter
Maple syrup

METHOD
Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl. Mix till completely incorporated. Carefully place batter into a squeeze bottle with the tip large enough to easily squeeze out the thick batter.

Turn your largest skillet on medium-high heat. Add in up some oil. Squeeze the batter into half-dollar sized pancakes all over the pan but leaving enough room between them (about a half-inch). Cook for about 2-4 minutes then flip per side.

Repeat till all batter is used. Serve in a bowl with a bit of melted vegan butter and maple syrup and/or non-dairy milk.