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The New Racist Sandwich Podcast Explains Itself

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A new podcast aims to tackle race and gender in the Portland food industry

Racist Sandwich Hosts Zahir Janmohamed (left) and Soleil Ho
Racist Sandwich Hosts Zahir Janmohamed (left) and Soleil Ho
Facebook/Racist Sandwich

Racist Sandwich is a new Portland-based podcast addressing race and gender in the Portland food industry. Although it's holding its launch party tomorrow (more on that below), the new podcast is already four episodes deep. The first episode aired May 4, and it has since featured some of Portland's hottest food personalities, including Kim Jong Grillin's Han Ly Hwang and Ian Williams, the man behind Portland's sneaker-themed café, Deadstock.

Soleil Ho and Zahir Janmohamed founded and host Racist Sandwich. Chicago-born Ho is a chef who also writes literary essays (The Atlas Review, Bitch Magazine), and Janmohamed is a freelance journalist (The New York Times, Newsweek). Eater caught up with Ho and Janmohamed for a quick download. Here's what they had to say about what's in store:

"Racist Sandwich isn't just about race, it's about equality." The hosts want listeners to recognize that the "predominantly white male face of the industry" has "real-world consequences on people, including sparse employment options, stalled social mobility, and imposter syndrome," says Ho. While the initial four episodes focused on local businesses owned by people of color, episode five, which will air June 29, will mark the podcast's shift in focus to issues of gender and class, featuring Kate Cairns, who co-authored the book, "Food and Femininity," with Josée Johnston.

The hosts won't tell you what to do. This show tackles controversial subjects like racism and colonialism in food, but the hosts want the tone of the show to be exploratory, not accusatory. For example in episode two, Kim Jong Grillin's Hwang says, "I always look at racism like a pendulum, and we're all just trying to fight to stay in the middle, you know? To not be too politically correct."

The hosts aim to expose new sides to the local food industry. In the first podcast episode, see Oregon's first black winemaker Bertony Faustin, who talks about owning Abbey Creek Vineyard, where he likes to play hip-hop in the winery tasting room.

The Racist Sandwich website is amassing a list of restaurants and grocery stores owned by people of color. Recommend a new listing by emailing the podcast at racistsandwichpodcast@gmail.com. Though the list is still in its infancy, if all goes well, it could improve upon the similar resource created as part of last fall's Support Black Restaurant Day in Portland.

The hosts want to start a face-to-face conversation. Racist Sandwich's launch party is on Tuesday, June 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at Kim Jong Grillin' on SE Division St. At the launch, you can talk with the hosts, try some of Hwang's Korean food, and pitch ideas for new episodes. In July, they're planning another event at Faustin's Abbey Creek Vineyard. Follow them on Facebook for more info and future events.

—Ally Harris

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