Class Guest: Victoria Bouloubasis on Confianza en Carolina del Norte

#TacoLiteracy welcomed guest Profe Victoria Bouloubasis to class–as she suffered from my terrible skills at working tech during class, I learned to be better about shutting down windows before hanging up. I also didn’t bring a mic, which would have helped. This meant Profe B couldn’t hear the questions from students, so I sat next to the computer screen and repeated them back to her. A little bit weird, but I was glad to help! The questions were all great, though, and the students raised some interesting points about objectivity in journalism and when writing about a topic that speaks to us directly, and our personal affiliations.

It was an honor to have Profe B speak to the jovenes about foodways in Carolina Norte, her move to the South from her New Jersey roots, and how she’s come to negotiate how race, migration, power, and journalism move in the food writing world.

It was informative to hear how Bouloubasis linked her journalism with activism, investigative reporting, and personal writing. For her, you can see how moving across different spheres of people and situations opens her to learning from different people, as she listens to stories, learns about folks, and builds relationships. We also hear from her how studying history is always political, and no doubt so is food.

Boulousbasis also emphasized why trust is important. This kind of trust she builds is reciprocal, or shared, but also cognizant of differences, power dynamics, and how earning care through sustained relationships. In Spanish, this kind of earned trust is called confianza. To share this quality with communities is not to lose one’s objectivity, or to slip into bias when reporting on communities. Rather, this is the best way to know the person telling the story will write to represent the dignity of communities as one with the community. Through this process of building trust, this is how she learns to uncover stories. That said, when I asked about her interview process, she ways she intends always to have a dialogue with people, listening to them, and hearing them closely when they speak of their memories.

Victoria spoke about her Greek roots, and how this marked her when she moved to the South, but also made her aware of how European whiteness made supremacist claims to whiteness in the South–despite what Bouloubasis claims is a new movement to debunk such myths of homogeneity in the South. In the South, Victoria also befriended Latinx folks, and it was in their stories where she found commonality in her family story, and how food was also a way to learn more about some of the social issues and policies of the state.

To end things, I asked Victoria about something she would have advised herself about early on when she first started as a writer. She said, “to save money.” Well, that is solid advice. But she also said, “keep writing, keep writing, always practice. Write as many different things as you can, from feature stories, to ads, to the short list pieces, try everything, and learn everything.”

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