Last week, four authors submitted an op-ed, “How to not write racist food reviews,” criticizing The Mac Weekly’s ramen columns. The piece called for greater understanding of the cultural assumptions beneath the ramen series. The authors argued that the articles “portrayed Asian food with the racialized expectation of ‘cheap exotic Asian food,’” as well as “the Western sense of entitlement and condescension toward our culture and food.”
First, TMW editors take full responsibility for all of the articles we publish. Anything we run has been read by multiple editors, and any failure to catch problems with our pieces is on us and not our writers.
Many of the points raised in the article ring true: Western food writers often exoticize and misrepresent Asian food. The ramen reviews fell into these potholes. This is not to say we discredit the entire series: the authors aimed to lightheartedly analyze quick meals that they love, and are aware they missed the mark. The impact of the series on our readership is on us, the Editorial Staff, as we should have known some aspects of the column would reinforce harmful dynamics of Western food writing.
While we stand by the intentions of our writers, we must be able to recognize when our writing is damaging.
Authors in food, art, music and many other fields often write about cultures that are not their own. We strive to provide our readers with coverage of a multitude of cuisines, and we must exercise thought and care when we do so.
The authors added that “since The Mac Weekly represents student voices, the student body’s acceptance of this series further reveals the widespread complicity that leads to the ongoing commodification of our culture and violence against us.” We take the responsibility of representing the student voice very seriously, and we strive to do better moving forward.