Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blogging While White

This has been on my mind for quite some time.

I'm really not even sure why I keep getting stuck on it.

But I'm stuck. Maybe you can help me out.

This is The Healthy Living Summit, a conference of young food bloggers.


Here's a link to the 2013 Chicago presenters for the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo.

Here's the 2012  lineup for Nourished, a newer food blogger conference.

Here are the speakers for this year's Women's International Summit for Health. 

I found this photo on BlogHer, as part of the 2011 list of Voices of the Year.


And just to call myself out, check out all the bloggers on my sidebar.

Are you noticing anything?

I just read a great post on The Dusty Baker, titled Why are Women the Gluten Free Gladiators. The author, Jacqueline Raposo, poses a great question. When so many chefs and restaurant owners are men, why is it that women are leading the call in gluten-free businesses? And for that matter, why is it mostly women that are turning this little thing called a blog into sustaining careers?

Great questions and I have lots of answers.

But today's post is about a different question.

Why are all the bloggers white??? 

I know I can't be the only one thinking this, yet I don't hear anyone ever mention it.

You might tell me that there are non-white bloggers, and you'll prove it by telling me of: _____, _____, and _____. You can fill in the blanks in your comments below because I realized that I didn't know the names of any non-white bloggers, except those that are also big names on The Food Network. I started to google it and then realized that was EXACTLY MY POINT. 

I can't name even one big non-white blogger (I can name a few who are friends of mine). Maybe you can name three non-white bloggers. Awesome. But how many white ones can you name without even thinking about it?

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Lady. Shauna Ahern, The Gluten-Free Girl. Karina Allrich, The Gluten-Free Goddess. Would you like me to keep going?

How about Kelly Brozyna, The Spunky Coconut, Kath Younger of Kath Eats Real Food, and Katie Higgins of Chocolate Covered Katie?

I didn't have to google any of these names and I could go on forever.

Oh, and there's me. I'll say it. I'm White.

I'm also part Black and Native American though, and I consider myself multi-racial. But most people don't know that, and perception is half of the game when it comes to race. In the blogging world, I think I am considered a white blogger just as much as anyone else because that's what people see when they look at my photos. In fact, most of my photos on this blog show me with straightened hair because, to my mom's continued frustration, I often think I look prettier with straight hair (I mean, that's what most people on TV look like, right?). I know that I have to search out gluten-free blogs written by women who aren't white, because they aren't as easy to find.

Where's the diversity? 

There's a group called Blogging While Brown and they actively seek out, support and highlight Black bloggers. So I know they're out there. I'm sure I could google and find more groups like this. After all, it's not only white people who want to eat healthy or have to eat gluten-free.

So what gives, people?

I personally love that women are the crusaders in this. I love that we're standing up for our health and the health of our families. But I'm also ready to see a little diversity, a little acknowledgement that gluten-free is not just about a bunch of earthy-crunchy white women, and neither is talking about food and health. I want to see more diverse recipes, diverse faces, and hear diverse stories.

So I'm opening up this discussion. I'm just going to put out there what I see and invite you to share your thoughts, comments, agreements, and disagreements (respectfully of course).

I am a multi-racial woman who blogs while (appearing) white and I would love to see more diversity in the food blogging community as a whole and the gluten-free blogging community specifically.

Food for thought a.k.a. a few ideas that keep coming to me as I'm about to post:
  • I appear white and so people assume that I am. I am making the SAME ASSUMPTION about the other bloggers I've mentioned because I don't actually know their racial background. So I'll call myself out here for assuming other bloggers are white because they appear to be. 
  • There are a lot of young women who read food blogs as inspiration for learning how to eat healthy, and also many who suffer from disordered eating patterns. Wouldn't it be nice if we/they could see a more diverse representation of what healthy looks like? I am not at all trying to put down any bloggers and I'm a big fan of all the women I've already mentioned, but I also know that seeing images like the one above of the Healthy Living Summit does not exactly seem representative of the full spectrum of what healthy looks like. I know that as far as we've come in terms of race, people still tend to stick with their own race even if that's not the way they want it to be. I find myself in the same predicament right now as I'm putting together a group of women for a project, and lo and behold, they're all white. So I find myself trying to figure out how to navigate that and make the group more diverse, while also acknowledging that outside of college -where my friends were a rainbow of colors- I've ended up with pretty much all white friends.
  • Perhaps there are just as many gluten free blogs written by women of color, and I'm just wrapped up in my white bubble of blogging friends. Again, I'll call myself out on this and invite you to share blogs you think I should know about. 
  • Perhaps there are just as many gluten free blogs written by women of color and they're not getting the same attention. If that's the case, I offer my blog as a place for them/you to write a guest post and introduce your blog to me and my readers. 
  • I'm pretty sure I know my readers and that the majority of commenters are going to be white. And that many people will read it but feel uncomfortable leaving a truly honest comment. But in order for this to really be a discussion, I invite you all to consider this a SAFE SPACE to leave discomfort and fear at the door and share your thoughts openly. I just want to talk about this, because no one else seems to be.    


Tasty Eats At Home said...

I'll share some nonwhite blogs (and others not blogging, but sharing out in various forms of social media) I love to follow:
@glutenfreemomo on Twitter and Instagram. Wife of @ChrisDeGeare (of NY Giants) and she cooks gluten-free as he has celiac disease. - Not gluten-free, but read her Weekend ED Series. She is a recovering anorexic and her story is soul-baring, heart-wrenching, and yet so inspiring. I follow a LOT of paleo blogs, but particularly love hers. She manages healthy eating and working graveyard shifts! Her gluten-free blog has been around for a LOT longer than most of ours, and she's the creator of Adopt a GF Blogger.

I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of. But there's a start!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I didn't finish my comment - this is what I get for being distracted! Anyway, I wanted to share a few multi-racial bloggers just to help out. As for your perceptions - yes, a GREAT many are white, and women. As for gluten-free, I read somewhere that the majority of those following gluten-free diets are white. It's even been called a "rich white person" disease. I honestly feel that perhaps that's because of a lack of education at some point. Personally, I've never given race much thought on the subject - I just follow bloggers that write well and write about stuff I'm interested in! LOL Kudos to you for calling this out. I think it's definitely an interesting point.

Nancy B. said...

This has long been a problem in medical areas as well. Alternative diets are sought out by people with autoimmune diseases like lupus, which have also been perceived as rich white people's conditions. Medical research tends to be done on middle class white people (until recent efforts at greater representativeness). Research hospitals tend to be located at universities and research volunteers have been found from the (mostly White) student body. There may also be a reluctance in the Black community to participate in medical research because of past abominations. Yet a much greater proportion of African Americans get lupus than do White Americans. Research needs to reflect this. Americans of color are generally underserved by the medical establishment and are underrepresented in autoimmune blogging communities (or remain less visible). Thanks for raising this issue here.

Anonymous said...

In addition to earlier comments, you might also consider that given racial income disparities in this country, many women of color may not have the time to blog about things like a gluten-free diet or the access to technology. There are so many structural explanations that I could offer here for the blog disparity, but I think it's just one more reflection of the racist society that we live in.

danielle rouse said...

I am not sure about why most bloggers are white or even if that is true, but I guess you are right as I don't know any other race!

For me, why are women bloggers, nutritionists, and health activists is because we have found a way to have it all at home! I love the personal fulfillment that comes from blogging. Not that I am not fulfilled by being a mother....but while I am being the selfless nurturing mother and wife I have always wanted to be, I also get to keep a piece of my own creativity and self expression, and I get to do it from home... on my schedule! Who wants a boss!! I also think we are driven to want the best for our families and then when we see the success, we want to share and help the world!

donna said...

Nodding my head in affirmation regarding Nancy B's and Anonymous' comments...and heartily applaud this thought-provoking enlightened post.

It does appear that the "White-Out" blogging community is born out of a
certain economic facility of life..and that blogging is a means for them to foster and nurture their creative facets..but without "need" to get out to an out-of-home potentially non-stimulating/low paying work environment. This seems so unfair. I myself am a "mish-mash' of ethnicity...and I do love Sweet Potato Soul Blog. Although it is vegan, rather than gluten/grain/legume-free paleo...she is extremely positive, creative and opens her readers to a very eclectic offering into world cuisine and reflections on culture and its place in the cooking world. I heartily recommend it!

'Tis true...many of your readers are grappling with food issues..seeking knowledge to feed their bodies in correct, nourishing, nurturing ways that have become foreign to them. I am personally trying to recover from a ten year battle with anorexia nervosa..and blogs..and posts...such as this brilliant give hope. Thank you so much for a much appreciated share.

Deanna said...

Interesting topic. I haven't given a whole lot of thought, either. I tend to see this blogging thing as a thing of privilege, and white folk tend to have more privilege. There's a lot to be said about socio-economic factors here.

Also, there's a lot of diversity that isn't visible, and we don't know what aspects of the diversity spectrum we're seeing represented in the blogging world unless people talk about it, and many people don't feel comfortable discussing their personal lives in such an open way.

That being said, I always assumed you were multi-racial, if it makes you feel any better. :)

seeks said... is by a Filipino-American male who is vegan, gluten-free, and a pleasure to read. I read a few other blogs of non-whites and men, but admit its fewer than I'd like. Thank you for speaking to the disparity here!

Heather R said...

You have some really interesting points. I've been thinking about it all morning. I find the whole issue of defining people by race frustrating because it pigeonholes us to a certain extent. Ok, a whole lotta extent. I will rejoice when some day the census has check boxes for race and the only one that we will be able to check (assuming we are) is human. That being said, unfortunately race is still a huge part of our identity. Is it possible, and I speak only from my vantage point, that one of the reasons that there are fewer black people blogging about health is because so many of them are dealing with more in-your-face issues about just living? (not realizing perhaps that concentrating on health makes living easier). As a white person I've very seldom been in situations where my color was an issue. I haven't been denied jobs or other positions (that I know of) because of race. Gender yes, but not race. So if as a whole white women have not had to put energy into getting a job, then that piece of Maslov's heirarchy is taken care of and we can concentrate on the next level. Do white women get paid more than black women? Are there fewer single white moms? If I didn't have as much money coming in, nor the energy to put in to fixing food from scratch, if I was just plum tuckered out from getting through the day, then the last thing I'm going to want to do is take the time to fix something healthy. Open up a can of spaghettios and have done with it. And then deal with the guilt because more and more media points are talking about healthy eating. But, it is what it is. When I was working 16-20 hours a day at the bakery, healthy eating was not at the top of my list. Remembering to eat was and it didn't always happen. Have a stroke and all of a sudden your priorities change and you start taking better care of yourself. You evaluate the short term cost of a delayed food allergy test (several hundred dollars, no insurance) with the long term costs of perhaps a heart attack or cancer (thousands of dollars and debilitating) and you make the choice to spend the money now. If that means going without something else or several something elses, then that's the choice. Why are so many rich people healthier? Well, unless they've lived a really fast paced life with bad food and stimulant choices they tend to spend more money on healthy food. And take the time (and money) to pamper their bodies. And they don't feel guilty about it. How many of us, just making normal amounts of money, feel guilty about spending money to have a massage once a month, much less every week? And as women, we are taught that we need to take care of everyone else first. Right now I get a massage maybe every 3-4 months if I'm lucky. I should do it more often, because it's not just about it being "me" time, it's a health benefit. Massaging the lymph nodes is good for me. It moves toxins around and if I drink the water I'm supposed to, flushes them out afterwards. After my book goes to press and I start selling it and have a few extra sheckels lying about, massages baby...yeppers, that's floating around near the top of the list. So I think you're seeing more female bloggers because it's in our nature to take care of people and for the most part we multi-task well (blogging on the toilet...well, it's a possibility). And I think you're seeing more white bloggers because of society we've a decade or so ahead of non-white (gawd, I really hate catagorizing that have no idea how that hurts my soul) in the "privileges" (not quite the right word for jobs, housing, etc) we've fought for. It would be interesting to go back and look at pictures of the feminist rallies ala Gloria Steinem and the like and see what the racial composition was. I'll bet you a majority of them were white, because everyone else was too busy just surviving.

hunterslyonesse said...

It would be interesting to see a study on this. Is it really socio-economic status? Is it those of us of mixed/other race are too busy dealing with the realities that they don't have time to even think about sitting down to blog? Or is it the other races, many of whom have bigger and more reliable support systems, don't feel the need to sit down and share their life with the world?

Like I said in email, other than Jonathan, there are only a handful of non-white bloggers that I know. And that includes the bloggers my best friend's Autism blogosphere.

For us, being of mixed race makes us ambiguous without even trying to be. I know I never even thought about it until you posted a link to Blogging While Brown a while back. I think having been in the South/Mid-West for so long, I got used to being the "token Asian" so I never really thought about the disparity. I think if I had been home when I discovered you and everyone else after I started blogging I most likely would have seen it sooner since non-white greatly outnumber whites.

Loved this, Iris. :D

Zainab said...

This is a wonderful post Iris. I am an African and budding food blogger and noticed the same thing a few months ago when I was having a conversation with my husband. I was talking about all my favorite food bloggers, naming names like Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking, the pioneer woman, Lindsay of Love and Olive oil, when it occurred to me that I don't know any successful black or people of color food bloggers. Got me thinking and hitting up Google to research some just to get a different perspective. Thanks for the highlight in this post.

me said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I found your article by Googling something like "why are all female food bloggers white". Written that way, it leaves out my anger, frustration, confusion and all other assumptions I have made such as rich, middle class, educated, easy-life, etc etc.

For years, I have negotiated starting a blog and following my friend's advice to become a "health food professional" because I don't want to be another white educated woman writing a food blog. Better yet, I have gone through several detox diets, medical tests and whatever else to try to "solve" my food sensitivities. And yes, I eat gluten free. I actually eat grain-free but resist saying Paleo because it's such a fad!

I get so angry (maybe it's just spewing jealousy) when I read through -those- food blogs. How do they find time to do all that? Take such beautiful photos (that all look the same...)? Why is every one white? Why is everyone pregnant??? Why does everyone's house look immaculately clean and straight out of some Swedish boutique? Where's the clutter, the mail, the loose pens, the dirty socks, the stack of dishes?

Alright, that may have been off topic. But my point is, that these white woman food blogs are becoming cookie cutter versions of each other. I now imagine a perfect nuclear family, a woman in a 50's dress pulling a perfectly browned turkey from the oven. It's the "mass" social perception. And I don't want to be a part of it. I don't want to be another face, another blog, another woman talking about the benefits of a gluten free diet. I want diversity. I want more. I'm not sure how, or what exactly, but something different.


Related Posts with Thumbnails