This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group.
YONKERS, N.Y. -- My weekly column has been running for nearly two years now and it has always been devoted to food, fun and dining. However, with the tragedies that took place in our country this past week, I'm compelled to ask: How did we get so divided and how can we accelerate the changes needed?
The recent tragedies in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas compel us to look deeper into what are the root causes of our divisions.
My chosen industry is one that took many years to fully integrate and is only now starting to draw a truly diverse mix of workers and clientele. When I opened my first restaurant in 1983 my full staff was entirely made up of white employees and my clientele was largely the same race.
Today, I am very proud to say that my team includes a diverse mix of Whites, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT individuals, young, old, male and female. We work together, we play together and we support each other. I believe because of the diversity of my staff we have attracted a beautifully colorful, sophisticated and the most diverse clientele that you are likely to encounter in a suburban restaurant anywhere in this country.
What has made the difference? Respect.
We respect each other and we respect our guests and in return our guests respect us.
This is how unity begins and this is what our country is in dire need of at this moment. Respect for individuals no matter their race, creed, orientation or political leanings because it is just the right thing to do. Respect for law enforcement because without it we have chaos. Respect from our politicians would mean that you are not a “loser” just because you disagree on an issue. We need to appreciate what makes our country and our communities great, and that is, that we care about what others believe even though it may be different than what we believe.
Unity can only be achieved when there is mutual respect for all.