August 2, 2018
Earlier this year, Stamps Associate Professor Rebekah Modrak hosted Witt Visiting Artist Tunde Wey for a series of dinners and conversations on equity, race and privilege through food. In a follow-up series for the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Modrak shares reflective essays by Masimba Hwati (Stamps MFA ‘19), Bridget Vial, and Nick Powell, three U-M students who attended Wey’s dinner at Jefferson Market.
As the chef and creator of the Blackness in America dinner series, Wey made the decisions for the dinners, such as what food to cook and serve, and how guests encountered the food (he chose not to provide a menu). He decided whether to initiate a larger group conversation at each dinner (at Hikone, he did not initiate a collective conversation), and assumed the role of moderating the conversation at the Jefferson Market, beginning this conversation with his own observations about gentrification in Detroit and then shifting to his main question: “What are white people going to give up?”
Throughout this series, University of Michigan students who attended the Jefferson Market dinner share their perspectives on the event, their anticipation and apprehension in coming together with others committed to equity from across disciplinary, class-based, racial and community/academic lines, and the tension and weightiness that arose as Tunde initiated the group conversation.