Article originally posted on published on bon appetit.
The activist and sommelier talks inequality, intersectionality, and how her mom taught her to hold people accountable.
Over the past few years, Ashtin Berry has become a nationally recognized name in the food and beverage world. She’s the person restaurant owners call when they want to adjust the culture of their workplace, whether that means preventing harassment, fostering racial inclusion, or reconciling a sensitive issue that’s come up among the staff. Most of the consulting and curriculum-building work she does is under the radar—and often comes with a nondisclosure agreement—but her views on the industry are crystal clear: Things need to change. Here, she shares the roots of her activism, where she is now, and what she’s tackling next. —Hilary Cadigan
My mom always went to bat for me. She’d come to my school and tell my teachers, “You’re not going to crush her spirit or her competence just because you think a little black girl shouldn’t be opinionated.” I remember in third grade we had to write about the real Thanksgiving. All the kids are writing their little stories about how the pilgrims and the Indians are friends, and then there’s me with this paper my uncle helped me write after we watched a documentary on the History Channel. It had footnotes. All these parents complained: “My kid came home crying because Ashtin said that white people scalped Native Americans.” My mom went to the school and was like, “Where’s the lie?”