|Photo by Amy Bennett|
The group seemed very organized and focused. They walked down and formed a picket in front of the shop while a delegation went in to share their grievances with the owner and her chef, Al Sedaghat. Although the crowd was focused on Krantz and Stephanie Dünx , there was interest in what Sedaghat had to say. Sedaghat felt frustrated and concerned for his safety. “It takes just one person to come in here with a knife.” He felt, as a Persian, that there was nothing wrong with the restaurant and there was nothing racist on the menu. It was in his opinion that the groups encounter with Krantz would not move her to make any changes and that the controversy was helping their establishment.
Meanwhile, Krantz was adamant about educating the group on food from around the world. Frequently she would seem to derail the conversation by asking members of the delegation where they were from. In one exchange Krantz asked a person where a person was from they answered, “ I am from Portland.” Krantz responded, “No, I meant where are your people from.” To which the indigenous person responded, “They are from Portland.”
Krantz also seems to be very grabby, putting their hands on members of the delegation telling them they were not listening to her when she was presented with the pain and struggles of colonized people from the voices of the survivors.
One east Indian descendent shared their father's story of the partisans and how the Hindus and the Muslims slaughtered each other in the wake of the British departure. Krantz felt it was the fault of the partisans and not the British. Even the tears and obvious pain of a colonialism survivor was not enough to convice Krantz.
According to one source, when asked about her thoughts on the mass famine during world war II Krantz claimed it was the Indian lords faults and not the British who were exporting wheat from India to feed British soldiers. Then at one point they followed up with claiming the Indians were Nazis and it was the right thing to do.
Most of the crowd in the restaurant was made up of First Nation, east Indian and African people all survivors of colonization. Their voice was not enough to make her reconsider. When asked by Stephanie Dünx if Krantz felt food was political, Krantz answered with a firm no. Krantz continued to state they knew history and was well traveled and they were just making food. They claimed that having lived in a colony they knew the locals did not have a problem with colonization. An impression I find interesting since [art of the narrative of how she became focused on British colonial food is how English people in Hong Kong longed for their traditional; British foods that were so hard to get in Hong Kong.
The room began to demand that Krantz, as an act of good faith, remove the word plantation from the name of one of her cocktails. Krantz response was that if she did that she would have to redo her entire menu. When the crowd demanded she change it immediately, at least on the glass menu written in dry erase marker, Krantz called it silly and refused. The crowd began to chant for Krantz to take it down and even offered to help her. After much resistance Krantz, in a tantrum, decided to erase the whole board. Excessive but there was even a cocktail called a Lloyd's of London, named after the insurance company that provided coverage for slave ships. As Krantz was having a hissy fit one member of the group told her she was being a brat. Krantz denied this and proceeded to spray the board.
With this simple act the group finally dispersed and reconvened with the picket outside. After so much struggle against white supremacy surely everyone was hungry. It was then proposed that some of the group go to the local African owned Ethiopian restaurant on Killingworth, Enat Kitchen. It is not enough to shut down colonizers but one may want to also support local business owned by people of color.
I personally was pleased to see the group dominated and lead by people of color and Europeans participating not taking up space but also supporting. This was a very last minute event and many people showed up. Colonialism is very important whether European-Amerikkkans want to admit it or not. It has caused so much pain that it has carried on to younger generations. The economic and emotional price of colonialism is still being paid for today by the victims. Even England just last year tried to build a prison in Jamaica to keep British convicts of Jamaican descent. Fortunately leader Portia Simpson-Miller, former prime minister of Jamaica quickly shut that down and demanded reparations.
Krantz is certainly entitled and can be grabby. They are very confused and unwilling to listen. They were under the impression that the issue was food and the time period. Krantz as a shaky understanding of history and colonialism and lacks empathy. Krantz values her pride over integrity and that could be harmful to art, and when your art is food it can be toxic.
Krantz may not ever change but the people of color, survivors of colonialism will. Some were strangers to each other and some have never been part of an action much less and organization. After today we may see new comrades come from this adversity. Krantz will stay strong to her belief but she can not deny that people hurt by British Colonialism have told her the truth and meaning of what she is doing.
As for the Europeans brothers and sisters that stood by us today I invite you to meet the MBAC on Thursday the 24th of March 2016 and learn how to be a better white accomplice through the works of late political prisoner and organizer Marilyn Buck. The event will be at Mother Foucault's at 7pm.
Palante, Siempre Palante!