Our 2021 Anti-Racism Pledge

Over the last year, we have witnessed and grieved the disproportionately devastating toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color; the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Ma'Khia Bryant and other Black Americans by the police; the resurgence of hate crimes and acts of extreme violence against Asian Americans; and countless other instantiations of the far-ranging and insidious effects of systemic racism. Though these traumatic events appear to have been eye-opening for some, for a great deal of our country’s population, they have been a crystallization and reinforcement of a long lived and multigenerational reality: systemic racism in America is far-ranging, insidious, and deadly.

Today we wish to be absolutely clear: the food industry perpetuates systemic racism and food is always, at its core, deeply political. We believe it is our responsibility in this industry to interrogate the following questions and root out instances of bias:

  • Access: Who has access to what types of food, and who is food insecure? Who is left out of conversations about eating “well,” “indulgently,” “sustainably,” “healthily”?
  • Power: Who is authoring or otherwise sharing information about a food and its context, history, and cultural significance? Who decides what food counts as “good,” “healthy,” “normal,” “interesting,” “fancy,” “delicious”?
  • Appropriation: What cuisines are, or have historically been, routinely profited off of, both figuratively and literally, by those in positions of privilege and power?
  • Visibility: What cultures and cuisines are routinely underrepresented, mischaracterized, or conspicuously absent from mainstream food media?
  • Labor: Are our writers compensated fairly for their expertise? What is the racial composition of full-time editorial staff? And how is the manufacture of food impacting our environment and the people who work within our food supply chains?

As a food website that publishes international recipes and runs reported feature articles, personal essays, and the like, Serious Eats has long had a commitment to celebrating global culinary traditions. But while we’ve endeavored to be sensitive to issues of cultural appropriation, to represent diverse voices, we are also part of the problem.

The underrepresentation of Black voices in food media is well-known and often remarked and reported upon, yet it remains endemic to our industry. That’s not a coincidence, nor is it an idiosyncrasy of media broadly or food media in particular: It is a reflection of the power structures that define the United States, and it is not okay.

As we’ve worked to relaunch our site in recent months, we’ve had an opportunity to comb through and audit a great deal of our content. Our findings aren't surprising given the systemic racism in America broadly and in food media in particular, but identifying our shortcomings in terms of our content (or lack thereof) has given us a clearer picture of how to structure and execute our commitment to anti-racism. Our core goal is to create a sustainable, ongoing editorial strategy that prioritizes and centers the need for better representation among our full-time and freelance team members, as well as the types of stories they tell. To that end, we pledge to undertake the following steps:

  • Bias reduction: By the end of 2021, we will review content accounting for 50% of our total site traffic, evaluating it for bias in language and instances of cultural appropriation, including language around race, gender, sexual orientation, and content that glamorizes colonialism. We will also share and begin to put into action a plan to address and remediate content flagged by this review. Updates to this pledge will also include information about next steps.
  • More diverse hiring: We commit to continuing to have at least 50% of all new contributor articles and recipes authored by BIPOC. This extends to putting in place a system to increase diversity in our hiring of photographers, recipe testers, and illustrators. For every open staff or contract role, we will actively recruit and interview BIPOC candidates.
  • Increased coverage of cuisines and cultures underrepresented in our library: 50% of new content will be devoted to covering cuisines and regions we’ve identified as particularly lacking on Serious Eats. This includes to Caribbean cuisines; Indigenous North American cuisines; Black American culinary traditions ; Middle Eastern cuisines; cuisines from Central and South America; cuisines from Africa; and cuisines of the Pacific Islands.
  • Better monitoring of comments: We will be investing in a comment moderator who can review comments prior to their publication on the site in order to ensure that neither readers nor our authors are exposed to hate speech, online bullying, and other violations of our commenting policies.
  • Transparent rates: We believe variable pay rates are vulnerable to both conscious and unconscious bias, and can perpetuate the exploitation of contract workers. To that end, Serious Eats pays standardized (whether per piece or by the hour depends on the task) for all contributors and contractors. Our rate sheet is available upon request.
  • Partnership: By the end of 2021, we commit to partnering with an external organization aligned with our focus on inclusion and diverse representation in the food industry.

If you would like to share feedback, offer suggestions for ways we can improve, or send along additional links we can share, we welcome emails sent to contact@seriouseats.com.

Earlier Statements

Update: February 3, 2021

Many of you have asked us what progress we've made, so today we want to take a moment to update you.

We have not hired any new full-time staff members, and as we reported in our June statement, we do not have any Black staff members or editors. However, we have significantly increased the number of freelancers we work with and the ratio of contributor to staff-produced content that runs on the site. Since issuing our statement, we’ve published 90 articles and recipes by 34 contributors. Of those contributors, 25 are BIPOC, including 11 Black contributors; the remaining nine are white. In terms of content volume, 70 of the 90 articles were authored by BIPOC, including 21 authored by Black writers, most of whom are working on future pieces for us right now, too.

Our work is ongoing and we're constantly looking to widen our contributor base. We’d love to hear from readers about what types of stories they’d like to see from us in the future. In the meantime, our team has nominated a selection of some of our favorite stories and recipes from Black authors to celebrate Black History Month. You can find them here.


Original Statement:
June, 2020

Serious Eats unequivocally stands in solidarity with those protesting the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and the many others who have lost their lives to racist violence. We believe that the systemic oppression and violence visited upon Black people has been, is, and will continue to be the urgent issue in the United States, and we offer our support to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Outlets like the New York Times have made the indisputable point that there are two devastating epidemics faced by Black America right now: the coronavirus and police brutality. The former has already taken a disproportionate number of Black lives, and promises to continue to disproportionately affect communities of color. The latter has led to a seemingly endless tide of murders of Black people by the police. At Serious Eats, we’ve devoted substantial airtime to cooking and coping during COVID-19. But we recognize that it’s irresponsible to discuss one of these issues without addressing the other: Both emerge from longstanding inequalities founded on this society’s structural disregard for the value of Black lives.

This inequality is far-ranging and insidious, and our industry is not immune. As a food website that publishes international recipes and runs reported feature articles, personal essays, and the like, we’ve long had a commitment to celebrating global culinary traditions. But while we’ve endeavored to be sensitive to issues of cultural appropriation, to represent diverse voices, and to assert that food is always, at its core, deeply political, we are also part of the problem.

Serious Eats has no Black people on staff at this time, and we’ve never had a Black editor. The underrepresentation of Black voices in food media is well-known and often remarked and reported upon, yet it remains endemic to our industry. That’s not a coincidence, nor is it an idiosyncrasy of media broadly or food media in particular: It is a reflection of the power structures that define the United States, and it is not okay.

We are committed to making more Black voices heard on our site, to honoring Black foodways, to being a home for Black stories, and to standing back and shutting up to listen to Black voices elsewhere. What that actually means is that we’ll be refraining from publishing new content this week and instead using our homepage to provide a list of links and resources to help people get involved in the necessary fight against racism in this country. We’ll also be using that time to have difficult conversations about our organization and the content we produce, and to plan for the future accordingly.

If you would like to share feedback, offer suggestions for ways we can improve, or send along additional links we can share, we welcome emails sent to contact@seriouseats.com.

Black lives matter.