Sarah Jackson, writing for the New York Times in 2018:
[Anthony Bourdain] was not just curious about food and the world. He was aware that injustice and inequality are systemic issues, and he never shied away from pointing that out. He regularly humbled himself before people very unlike him, he asked careful questions, and he listened. Before our eyes, he was always learning, and trying to make the world just a little better.
We live in a time when the simplest protests against racial injustice by athletes and celebrities are considered divisive, and when admitting imperfection while striving for righteousness and truth makes you a rebel. Perhaps that partly explains why people called the curious and empathetic Mr. Bourdain a “bad boy.” If that’s the case, let’s have more like him. May his compassion and indignation live on.
It has been two years since Bourdain’s death and Jackson’s tribute to his work and what he hoped to represent continues to ring true. For those of us who are privileged because of the colour of our skin or our gender, his ability to be an ally while consciously trying to avoid becoming a white saviour should be a model — even considering his misses.
Malaika Jabali, Glamour:
Bourdain is gone, this much is true. But as society pushes forward to answer the hard questions about what kind of world we want for the future, how inclusive and how understanding we want to be, it’s important to know that “allyship” is not something you bestow upon yourself.
It’s not your equivalent of street credibility because you went to a protest.
It is, as Bourdain showed us, the way you live your life and make room for others. It’s being inclusive and understanding without being boastful. It’s looking inward and being self-aware. And it’s never claiming it for yourself.
Protesting works; publicly showing the hunger for change is good. But for those of us who are privileged to live a life without facing hardship because of who we are, it is vital to be so much better. For the sake of humanity, we should all aspire to be able to be described in words such as these.