Black Lives Matter – Madison Eats Food Tours
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Black Lives Matter

Taking steps of action to support our Black community

I founded Madison Eats Food Tours over ten years ago with the intent and mission to serve and support our community, particularly small businesses, minority-owned businesses and locally-owned businesses. I founded MEFT on my passion for connecting diverse communities through food and stories and for contributing to the economic sustainability of the cities and countries in which we work. Madison Eats Food Tours stands against discrimination for any reason, including but not limited to skin color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and legal status. Black lives matter.

The continuance of systemic racism and oppression in our country have been a call to action and caused me to further consider the work we need to do as a company.

I had been operating in a manner I believed to be sufficiently supportive of our Black community. I am now seeing that what I considered to be a sweet spot in which I felt my efforts and impact were “good enough” was actually a place of comfort. It was a place reflective of my implicit privilege and bias and good intent, but it was not enough.

Speaking up about the issues, our past and future work as a company, and our failings, is the only way to truly serve our community and foster real change. As I move forward working to support Black lives and dismantle our racist system, I will make mistakes, but it is a privilege to choose silence. I will respond, listen, learn, and continue to show up for this work.

I intend to be more clear moving forward about how we will be taking action to support our Black community. It is my responsibility to be anti-racist in every decision and action we make as a company.

Since 2020:

  1. We donated $700 to charitable organizations including Freedom, Inc and the Center for Black Women’s Wellness.
  2. $43,000 in sales went back into our community from sales of Madison TrEats
  3. We worked with 60 locally-owned small businesses
  4. 30 of those businesses are owned by people of color
  5. 13 businesses are Black owned

Some of the steps I am taking in the future are as follows:

  1. I will be working to include more Black-owned businesses on our current tours – both public and private. At this time we currently regularly partner with just one Black owned business on our public tours. 30% of the businesses we regularly partner with are owned by people of color and 55% are minority owned.
  2. If we cannot include Black-owned brick and mortar locations on our tours due to the route, then other ways that I support those businesses are by blogging and showcasing them on social media and talking about them to our tour guests.
  3. I will intentionally seek Black people to be part of my team as we hire or contract for future positions. Currently 40% of our team are people of color, one of whom is in a lead position as a guide, and our company make-up is 80% minority, and is woman owned.
  4. I will add monthly tours that take people specifically to the businesses in neighborhoods that are not walkable/on our existing tour routes to tour and support Black owned food businesses.
  5. I will dig deeper to foster ongoing relationships with the business owners so that we can best tell their stories.
  6. I will include more of the diverse history of Madison including First Nations, Black and immigrant histories, as well the histories of other minority groups in our scripts as I relaunch tours.
  7. I will include training for our guides to talk in further depth about Madison’s diverse cultural history and culinary history, including Black and Indigenous history and other minority groups. We will seek out voices representative of those communities (whether written or in person) for our training.
  8. As I add new neighborhoods and tours to our regular offerings, I will seek out Black-owned business partnerships.
  9. I commit to financially supporting organizations that support Black, Indigenous and people of color in our community on a monthly basis, and half of our giving budget will go to organizations that support our Black community  (once our tours are back in operation and profitable). I will pursue partnerships with organizations that will foster a deeper and more long-standing connection to our communities of color to learn how we can better serve them.
  10. I am rewriting our company’s missions and values to reflect and clarify my beliefs about inclusion and diversity, and I am working on our partnership process, hiring process and tour design to reflect those guiding principles.

This is just the beginning and I will keep you updated as we implement these changes. I am approaching this work with humility. Thank you and I hope you will join me in this work.

Otehlia Cassidy, owner, with full support of our team