There’s currently a very important conversation about systemic racism instigated by a highly anticipated cookbook and the baker and blogger who, years before, formed the bases of the book’s concept.
The book is Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices by Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford, and the baker/blogger is Tangerine Jones. A lot has already been written about the controversy and doesn’t really need to be hashed out again. To be clear I support Jones. She makes an irrefutable, dead-on argument that the book adds to the historical record of people of color’s work being misappropriated, their personal involvement and achievement neglected.
But there’s another issue I have that has not been explored. Would Jones have been offered a place among the book’s elite lineup of contributors?
Jones has been interviewed by some national outlets but is not widely known. Right before she wrote an essay in Medium drawing attention to her exclusion, she had 1,400 Instagram followers (it’s bumped up since her article appearance on Medium and the resulting embroilment). Her blog has a healthy, but not outstanding, number of loyal readers. In other words, she does not possess anywhere near the clout or social media presence that the list of notable contributors bring to the book. Even if the authors had done due diligence, in which they would have surely discovered Jones’ work, it’s arguable whether they would have considered an essay by her to yield much value to the book’s PR luster and sales.
What Jones would have added is authority. She writes beautifully about the cathartic power of cooking and sharing her food with others, how it overcomes divides and forms connections that may result in real social and political change.
The authors are offering Jones a one line acknowledgement and to give some of the book’s proceeds to a charity of her choice. What seems to be off the table is for her writing to be placed among the other women who, in their inclusion, have been designated the best representatives for the ideas incorporated in rage baking. This failure is continuing to invalidate Jones as a writer and to silence her legitimate creative voice on the topic.