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The Daily Dose
7 minutes | 6 hours ago
The Pandemic's Crippling Blow ... to Kashmir's Frail Justice System
Unlike the rest of the world, Kashmir's harsh internet restrictions mean courts haven't meaningfully shifted online, leaving a ballooning number of prisoners awaiting trial.
9 minutes | a day ago
How Asia's Transformation Could Shape the World's Urban Future
Asians have shown they can lead the global economy. Can they also show the world a sustainable urban future for billions of people?
4 minutes | 2 days ago
The Museum of the Future Is Here...in Dubai
Because you don’t have to wait for the future to imagine it.
7 minutes | 5 days ago
Can We Fix the Body’s Dysmetabolic State?
It's a condition that increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a serious, progressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Now hope might be around the corner.
6 minutes | 6 days ago
When a Body Meets a Boatman on the Ganges
He’s a lone boatman and lawyer whose decades-long, silent vigil up the Ganges has remained a mystery. Until now.
4 minutes | 7 days ago
The Next Great Transit Hack: An App for Blind Subway Riders - OZY
Because "seeing" the world more clearly will always be a good thing.
7 minutes | 8 days ago
This Revolutionary Chef Wants to Topple the Table - OZY
Ashleigh Shanti listens to the music of old souls. Voices like Nina Simone’s might be ringing through her halls while greens and ham hock slowly simmer in a large pot. And this music taste makes sense, because while Shanti is a chef of the future, her food is rooted in the past. After graduating from Hampton University, Shanti knew she wanted to work in kitchens but didn’t know what that might look like. “I didn’t see my reflection in what I wanted to do, so I think that’s what made it seem impossible,” she says of the lack of visible Black women in the culinary world. “I wanted to cook food that was reflective of me, and I couldn’t really find that.” That search led Shanti down several paths, from serving and bartending, to getting certified as a sommelier, to staging in several of the country’s top kitchens. As Shanti, 31, found herself reflecting on the food of her childhood in Virginia — the stewed beans and greens, rice and okra of the Black Appalachian foodway her mother and maternal grandmother would make — she was approached by acclaimed chef John Fleer with a unique opportunity. Eagle Street in Asheville, North Carolina, had been a booming Black business district before it was destroyed by urban renewal in the ’70s. “It’s been an open wound in our social scene ever since,” says Stu Helm, Asheville’s most prominent food writer. As the neighborhood has grown in recent years, many have pushed for a more historically conscious growth, including Fleer. He recruited Shanti to launch a restaurant that paid respect to Eagle Street’s history. Shanti took the opportunity to develop a menu reflective of those long-neglected Black foodways. Her “Afro-lachian menu” tries to “tell the story of the Black women who made [Eagle Street] successful.” She cherishes a cookbook written in the 1860s by a Black woman from the Tennessee mountains named Miranda Russell. (It was a gift from legendary Appalachian food authority Ronni Lundy.) Shanti took it on as her responsibility to preserve these recipes and techniques — such as foraging and seed-to-stem cooking — and to highlight the influence of African ingredients on Southern food. As she honed this approach, Shanti’s food took off at Benne on Eagle, garnering the praise of Asheville locals, critics and fellow chefs. One of these chefs was Lexington, Kentucky’s Lawrence Weeks, who became a friend. “Her food is super nuanced, and either visually or in taste creates such a flavor memory. It’s like, ‘Oh I’m having my mom’s black-eyed peas.’ But it looks so beautiful and modern that obviously, it’s white tablecloth food,” Weeks says. Helm was also impressed by Shanti’s style — which “straddles that line of fine dining and home cooking,” he says — as well as her humility. He recalls a liver pudding that left him in awe. “It was seared on the outside, and it came with house-made crackers and house-made pickles, and it was so good.” The dish speaks to how Black families had to make the most of offal meats and other unwanted ingredients — and their ability to coax greatness from such ingredients. This liver pudding won Shanti one of the many awards she’s received from Helm’s publication, Stu Helm The Food Fan. Shanti was named a finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year James Beard Award in 2020 before the ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic. The popularity and prominence that Shanti’s cooking chops gave her also helped white Ashevillians face a moment of reckoning, given how few Black chefs receive such recognition. “We’ve had to confront the fact that we’re not as liberal as we thought we were, or as open-minded as we thought we were,” Helm says. But this issue reaches far beyond Asheville, as conversations happen throughout the country around appropriation and recognition in the world of food. Black chefs, Weeks says, often go unrecognized, while their talents and ingredients help white chefs cash in and gain prominence. But Shanti is changing the game. “She is going to be one of the pioneers when it comes to — and I hate this term — the new Southern cuisine,” Weeks says. “Because Southern cuisine has always been Black. I guess it’ll be the revitalization of owning Southern cuisine.” While agreeing that appropriation is a concern, Shanti adds that what happens in the kitchen is only one dimension of a chef’s power, and chefs must look to lift up communities they are in and from which they draw inspiration. “For so long, I thought, ‘I want a seat at the table,’ but now I have this urge to knock over the table. … We’ve been trying to fix it, but it has been broken for so long; what are we fixing?” From appropriation to serving food stripped of its Black history and context, to ignoring community-building to toxic workplaces rampant in the industry, Shanti’s generation has ample grievances. “The future of restaurants can’t look anything like what it has looked like,” she says. As Shanti moves on from leading the kitchen at Benne on Eagle — with an eye on developing recipes and perhaps some pop-up offerings — she looks forward to her own restaurants that shift these practices and tell her food stories. Still, with some 17 percent of all U.S. restaurants closed for good as of Dec. 1 amid the pandemic, the industry is in upheaval, and it’s unclear what opportunities may lie ahead. “Somebody needs to approach her and give her her own thing,” Weeks says. “The nation should know that she’s important. They need to give her her flowers right now. Recognize a revolutionary while they’re young and watch them grow.” Like Simone sang of being “young, gifted and Black,” Shanti’s desires reach far beyond her craft. She’s looking to develop not just great flavors on the plate, but real justice in the kitchen.
5 minutes | 9 days ago
Cincinnati’s Secret Sauce to Help Minority Businesses Succeed - OZY
Like so many tragic stories these days, this one began with an unarmed Black man killed by police over traffic violations. It was April 2001, and mass protests arose in the Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati, leading to the most destructive U.S. riots since the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Still, with the community reeling, a number of positive reforms emerged in the protests’ wake — particularly, the Minority Business Accelerator, a task force created in 2002 that was dedicated to building scalable companies of color. Now, nearly two decades later, the MBA has 40 African American and Hispanic firms, each earning more than $1 million in annual revenue, under its wing — generating more than $1 billion in yearly sales and over 3,500 jobs, with plans to double both those statistics by the end of 2022. It’s part of a broader environment dedicated to building up minority entrepreneurs. Among the country’s top 10 cities where minority entrepreneurs are succeeding: Cincinnati has the highest percentage of minority businesses that make more than $500,000 annually and have been in operation for more than six years. That’s according to analysts at Lending Tree, in a study published last year. And Cincinnati stands out. Other Midwestern cities fared poorly, with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cleveland ranking among the nation’s worst. Cincinnati succeeds in part because it has matched minority-owned supply companies with its top science and research companies, from Johnson & Johnson and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to Procter & Gamble. From its perch within the city’s chamber of commerce, the MBA often finds minority businesses making in the low millions annually and connecting them “with the buying power of that regional or national organization, building their revenue to $20, $30, $40 million or more,” says MBA Executive Director Darrin Redus. There’s another factor that’s helping minority businesses. “More corporations than ever have diversity and inclusion plans … but are increasingly challenged to find minority firms of size,” Redus says. Another strategy the accelerator uses is finding healthy companies looking for buyers and handing over leadership to minority entrepreneurs — allowing an interracial transfer of wealth almost seamlessly. “We can literally create minority firms of size via acquisition,” Redus says. The MBA strategy has worked so well that it’s been awarded a $450,000 grant from the Kaufman Foundation to build a playbook so other cities can replicate its results, with 20 different cities currently mirroring the Cincinnati model. To be sure, Cincinnati isn’t some ideal beacon of diversity. It ranks below cities like San Francisco, New York and Atlanta in percentage of self-employed minorities (just 3.1 percent). Smaller companies led by people of color appear to struggle in particular, a trend that aligns with the findings of an independent study by WalletHub. That paints a picture of a city that’s successfully pushing medium-sized companies to great heights but is struggling to get minority entrepreneurs to the starting line in the first place. Being in the Midwest, “there are just a limited number of funds and angel investors, which have huge concentrations on the coast,” says Candice Matthews Brackeen, founder and CEO of Cincinnati-based Lightship Capital. Still, that weakness is being addressed. In 2014, the MORTAR startup accelerator was founded to help low-income, mostly African American entrepreneurs build or expand their businesses. Of the 180 graduates of the program, 172 are still actively pursuing their businesses as of last year. The Hillman Accelerator, created by Matthews Brackeen with former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones in 2017, invests $100,000 and provides mentorship to female- and minority-owned Midwest startups. And in late June, Matthews Brackeen launched a $50 million fund to invest in companies led by racial, queer and disabled minorities, the first to do so in the Midwest, and the largest fund launch to date by a Black woman. “It further feeds our pipeline of color,” Redus says.
7 minutes | 12 days ago
The Next Frontier in Vaccines: Maternal Immunization
It's safe and could be an effective way to build antibodies both in pregnant women and their babies.
5 minutes | 14 days ago
If You Think Deep Dish is Chicago's True Pizza, Think Again.
Because tavern-style pizza was warming the Windy City long before its bigger, deeper brother.
6 minutes | 15 days ago
A Hot Dog Restaurant That Brings a Town Together
Steve Ewing, who owns Steve’s Hot Dogs in St. Louis, was surprised with $25,000. Find out how his hot dogs make a difference.
5 minutes | 16 days ago
When Dead Beer Walks: A Dane in Vietnam Turns Strange Brew Into Craft Gin
Thomas Bilgram, a Dane expat in Vietnam, turns misery into magic with his craft gin made from near-death beer.
6 minutes | 19 days ago
Have I Got a Hunter Biden Story for You …
Derek Meyer Galanis gets out of prison and finds himself right in the weird middle of the Hunter Biden deal.
6 minutes | 20 days ago
Can Motorbike Taxis Fix Africa’s E-commerce Problem?
The continent’s poor connectivity has deterred even Amazon from entering the e-commerce market there. Motorbike apps are trying to fix that.
4 minutes | 21 days ago
This Brazilian Dexter Loves Killing Killers
Killer Petey, a Brazilian serial killer of killers, views himself as an avenger. But what about the cannibalism?
6 minutes | 22 days ago
Opinion: What Shakespeare Tells Us About the Trump Insurrection
Comparisons between Trump and Caesar are overblown. But what about those between Mark Antony and Sen. Josh Hawley?
7 minutes | 23 days ago
Lee for 3! Can This South Korean Break the NBA Barrier?
Sweet-shooting Hyunjung Lee represents a new NBA hope for South Korea.
5 minutes | a month ago
The Surprising Boom in Pandemic Co-Living
The pandemic was expected to kill co-living. Instead, it has thrived as people look for a sense of community.
6 minutes | a month ago
Butterfly Effect: Could Myanmar Sanctions Backfire on Biden?
President Joe Biden is being true to his word on supporting democracy. But that might not be enough.
7 minutes | a month ago
Why India Needs a Blood Sand Awakening
Scores are dying every year over sand mining, and there seem to be no political solutions.
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