With our newest release, we're supporting the efforts of Lauren Darnell's Made in New Orleans Foundation.
The second iteration of our Support Your Local campaign embraces hope and encourages our community to restore power to the people. A portion of the proceeds from Support Your Local sales will be donated to the hospitality industry via the MiNO Foundation, which grows and supports the success of people of color in New Orleans’ hospitality industry through education and mentorship.
We took some time to interview Lauren, MiNO's executive director, about their work in light of recent political awakenings. Read our interview below.
How has the prominence of BLM protests and current political awakenings given way to further MiNO’s mission?
There is a collective reckoning that is occurring. In the 400 year history, incessant murder of BIPOC people, the protests calling for change are calling for humanity to recognize Black lives as lives that matter. There are deep seeded issues in disparity across our society, and institutions are being exposed in new ways that are long overdue. Our work is centered on advancing BIPOC in New Orleans. Made in New Orleans Foundation (MiNO) envisions a New Orleans hospitality industry that leads the world in growing, supporting, and financing the success of people of color. We use a multidisciplinary approach to address, ameliorate, and eliminate disparities facing hospitality professionals of color. At the individual level, we provide educational resources, mentorship, scholarships, and business coaching. At the industry level, we amplify the voices of professionals of color and provide support to hospitality companies that are seeking to eliminate bias and disparities in their organizations.
We have seen and heard the lived experiences from BIPOC hospitality professionals, young and old, who have dealt with racial bias, discrimination, an unequal system of advancement in New Orleans kitchens, restaurants and bars. New Orleans has its own particular history of slavery and enslaved peoples in Louisiana. The crops that flourished, the labor, the dishes created, and the cultural traditions of New Orleans all tell a story of our wounds and our extraordinary presence.The global protests and the current political climate support the increasing awareness of how racial inequality affects life. It affects all areas of life,especially work and in gaining access to opportunities and resources.
How can we as a community embrace this moment and be the change we so desperately need?
Acknowledge each other’s humanity. Listen. Acknowledge the past, our shared past, and practice being open to conversation, and not having to have all the answers. Learning at times requires unlearning. Be curious and ask questions. We can amplify Black and Brown voices. We can hire, pay, and promote equitably. We can seek education, share resources, ask for support. Above all, we can embrace the real discomfort of this conversation and take care of ourselves and each other in the process.
“Acknowledge the past, our shared past, and practice being open to conversation, and not having to have all the answers.”
Building on that, how can supporters and allies use this moment and make it last?
Be in personal and professional reflection of this work. Be an active participant in auditing racial equity in your social circles, networks, businesses you frequent, causes you support, and make a plan on what intentional and consistent way you can add value. Sustaining beyond a moment means having a vested interest in contributing to others, more than just thoughts. It is lived and not separate from you, it requires an active practice of learning, unlearning, listening and humility. It is day by day practice of adding value and opening doors, but most of all being with another and acknowledging their humanity and your own at the same time. That will stand the test of time.
“Sustaining beyond a moment means having a vested interest in contributing to others, more than just thoughts. It is lived and not separate from you, it requires an active practice of learning, unlearning, listening and humility.”
How can people best support the work of MiNO?
We are a not-for-profit entity and welcome your contribution to our mission in many ways. You can support MiNO through a donation, or recurring monthly giving. You can sponsor an event or program featuring our hospitality professional network, or host a virtual event or campaign on our behalf. You can volunteer, contribute resources to one of our programs, or reach out for information on partnerships for our Equity program for organizations and restaurants. Share our efforts through social media or email us for more information or ways to collaborate: email@example.com, sharing your interest in the subject line. We are deeply grateful for all support to MiNO because it is an investment in the people of New Orleans and our collective future.
Made in New Orleans Foundation (MiNO) envisions a New Orleans hospitality industry that leads the world in growing, supporting, and financing the success of people of color. They use a multidisciplinary approach to address, ameliorate, and eliminate disparities facing hospitality professionals of color. At the individual level, they provide educational resources, individual mentorship and scholarships, and business coaching. At the industry level, they amplify the voices of professionals of color and provide support to hospitality companies that are seeking to eliminate bias and disparities in their organizations.
MiNO's statement re: COVID-19:
The global pandemic has already impacted millions of people’s livelihoods and pushed our nation into record unemployment. The crisis is illuminating the long standing racial inequalities in our healthcare system, labor market, and economy at large. Black people are at disproportionately higher risk of infection and death. They are more likely than whites to work in an “essential occupation” that puts them at risk with limited extra pay, or in an industry with high immediate risk for layoffs. Moreover, black families had lower household wealth by far going into this pandemic, and on average have less savings to get them through these challenging times.
Nationwide, it is estimated that 73% of leisure and hospitality workers have lost jobs, income, or hours in the COVID-19 Crisis. In New Orleans, this impact will be even greater than the national average. The Data Center forecasts that there were 78,000 people who were working in hotels, restaurants, and bars. People in this group, on average, earn lower wages and salaries than workers in other industries with less immediate risk. They are more likely to be renters, less likely to have completed a four-year degree, and are more likely to work seasonally or part-time. These factors make it harder for them to transition to other industries should restaurants stay closed indefinitely, and contribute to their precarious position.
Those black hospitality professionals that have achieved their vision of starting and growing their own business, at much personal sacrifice and despite plentiful structural barriers, are facing the unthinkable--their personal dream vanishing before their eyes. Already undercapitalized and undervalued, black business owners are less likely to receive federal support, as well. The Made in New Orleans Foundation is not willing to watch the dreams, blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of black hospitality professionals go down the drain without a fight.