Listen: At every protest I’ve attended, the most important part has not only been to stand in unity, but to LISTEN to the pain surrounding me.
As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Chris Tucker, founder of Betta With Butta.
A Southern Baker at heart, Chris is the CEO and Founder of Betta with Butta. His life’s motto is bake the world a betta place, one bite at a time. With charity at his core, Chris is constantly looking for ways to partner with local and national organizations to bring a smile and funds to people, communities, and causes in need.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Iwould like to think that my parents did a really great job at disguising the reality. When I look back at my childhood, I never remember wanting anything, but talking to my mom now as an adult, I know there were many things that we went without as a family. To answer your question, I would say I grew up pretty average for a boy from Florida. I am from a large family, four additional siblings and too many cousins to count, so there was always a lot of love and laughter that surrounded us, with food always at the forefront. I believe my passion and craft for the culinary arts blossomed from birth but were instilled in me throughout many parts of my childhood.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
If I’m being 100% honest, a passion for reading is something I have developed later in life, with much of what I digest being cookbooks and food columns. One person that I gravitate to is Ben Mims, a trailblazing member of the LGBTQ community who has been doing groundbreaking work within the food industry to promote a workplace of equality and fairness across the board.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
One quote that I live by daily while baking up new recipes was something my MiMi taught me as a young boy. “Baking takes time and recipes can’t be rushed or the outcome will be different.” Not only do I utilize this daily in the kitchen, but also in my day-to-day relationship development in life. In essence, all good things take time to come to fruition, not just recipes in the kitchen.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership means taking action. It’s never asking others to do something you haven’t done or wouldn’t do yourself. Leadership is setting the example and being the group the others want to follow or be a part of.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
I think it’s important when living a high stressed life to always be physically, mentally, and spiritually grounded. Personally, spending quality time outdoors and doing plenty of stretching with yoga is very stress relieving for me. Finding a spiritual practice that allows you to center yourself is not only key to business success, but also personal food for the soul. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own journey, but the most important part is that you find YOURS.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
The pandemic of racism has been plaguing the United States for over 400 years. For our country, and the world for that matter, to look at this like it’s something new is naïve. I think we’ve landed at this point in time because we have constantly turned a blind eye to the several injustices against Black people. The lack of inclusion of Black history aside from Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in our school system doesn’t allow for a great jumping off point of knowledge into society. I recently watched a film called 13th by Ava DuVernay and learned more about Black history than all in all of my days of schooling. The problem is when a society as a whole is silenced, they can only be silenced for so long. At some point, they will be heard. That time is now and I’m proud to say that they have many people of different colors standing by their side.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
The most important thing you can do is get involved. As a company, we have jumped at the opportunity to be involved with any initiative that is putting Equality at the forefront. The first one being Bakers Against Racism. When we were contacted to be part of the initiative, we couldn’t have been more excited because, at the time, we were yearning for the food industry to do more regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Bakers Against Racism was started by Chef Paola Velez from D.C., in which she gathered bakers from around the globe to participate in a virtual bake sale. Through this single initiative, thousands of dollars were donated amongst multiple organizations all for the greater good.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Well personally speaking, I always want to be a company that represents inclusion and diversity and if that doesn’t start within, I feel like we’re not representing a truth. You get a more authentic product and real experience for your customer by having diverse voices leading your executive team.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
In any change you want to make, it’s all about how open you are to LEARNing.
Listen / At every protest I’ve attended, the most important part has not only been to stand in unity, but to LISTEN to the pain surrounding me.
Education / Continuous EDUCATION is key. I’m currently reading a book titled White Fragility and even for somebody who is an anti-racist person, it struck a chord.
Articulate / It’s important in times like these that you ARTICULATE to those closest to you so you can grow as a person.
Reason / This isn’t a time to reason with others, rather REASON with yourself. Growth is uncomfortable and should come with the steps above.
Nurture / It’s important to always NURTURE yourself in times of growth. Mental and spiritual change takes its toll on the physical body. It’s all about balance. If you’ve been out protesting all day, take the next day to practice self-care.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
We’re in a moment of time that people have often found themselves comparing to the past. The difference is the outpouring of love on a global scale. The movement that we’re in currently is that of radical change. We are amid a pandemic both racially and medically, but I think through the continued fight, and with unity, we will overcome the bigotry that is racism.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
If I could sit down for dinner tomorrow with Tabitha Brown, consider my life to have a cherry on top! In our current climate, she has been such a breath of fresh air in the food space, but also to life in general. The way that she has catapulted to the top of Tik Tok food fandom is mind-blowing, but SO well deserved. I would love to sit down with her and listen to her comforting wisdom about the world as we know it and all things vegan. She has such a unique story about how going vegan changed her day-to-day life and body pain, which is something I can resonate with and “THAT’s, my business!”
How can our readers follow you online?
Well I’m still not cool enough to be on the Tik Tok, but I can be reached on all other social platforms under betta_with_butta and my website, www.bettawithbutta.com, which is where you can order nationwide delivery of select baked goods, luxury baking kits, and ready-to-bake doughs.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!