Topic: Faith

Michael W. Twitty

Two-time James Beard Award-winner, Michael W. Twitty talks race, culture, food, faith, history with an extra pinch of truth. Gay, Jewish and Black, Michael embodies diversity and intersectionality. His latest book, KOSHERSOUL, is finally here!

Appearances

 
Amazon
Github
Harvard University
Jewish Alliance
Salesforce
Southern Food Alliance
Yale University
Toyota
 

Speaking Options

Kosher/Soul?: Black-Jewish Identity Cooking

Being African American and Jewish is for many a combination that many can’t wrap their heads around. However, for thousands of Jews of color; having heritage, faith and family in both Diasporas—African and Jewish—and their many intersections means creating material, social and ideational lives that interweave identities and histories. For Michael, this includes food and the ways Black and Jews have mediated otherness and oppression using what they eat as well as the global stories Diasporic foodways have to offer. Join Michael on an exploration and a taste of what he calls, “KosherSoul.”  (His new book KosherSoul is available as of August 2022.)

From Cultural Appropriation to Cultural Amplification: Our Next Steps as a Society

Since the emergence of the second phase of the culture wars, no phrase since “reverse racism,” has so much ink been spilled over like “cultural appropriation.” Join Michael for a lively dialogue defining what appropriation is and is not, and how we can advance this complex and emotional conversation in ways that empower and push our society to a more nuanced inclusivity. 

The Cooking Gene: Tracing My African American Story Through Food

For African American culinary historian Michael W. Twitty there was a giant hole in the story of American cooking as big as the one in the story of most African American families. Putting the microscope on himself, Michael decided to fully trace out his family history through the story of Southern and American food. Using genetic research, historic interpretation, nature study, heirloom gardening and interviews with contemporary voices in food, his journey led him back to his family’s origins in West and Central Africa and a front ring seat in the debate over race and food in American life.

The Price of Hyper (In)visibility: Being Gay, Black, and Male in America

From Lil Nas X, to Empire, from Ru Paul to Pose, Black gay men have never been more hyper visible in American culture and yet Black gay men are still facing unique struggles and challenges that are unique to their diverse journeys. Join an actual Black gay man, openly gay author Michael W. Twitty for a discussion on the dichotomy between visibility and invisibility and slow acceptance. Learn the history of Black gay men in America and take a peek at solution points for a brighter future for the LGBT community and beyond.

From a Haunted Plate: Becoming an 18th and 19th Century Black Chef

Michael takes you on journey through the practical arts of food sourcing and cookery through the lens of a colonial or antebellum era African American cook. He will take the audience from lecture to discussion on the ways that traditional West and Central African food traditions met and melded with each other, those of indigenous peoples and Western Europe and then morphed over decades into centuries. Michael discusses the history of the cuisine as an extension of the foodways of Africa in early America with emphasis on the cooking techniques, cultural transformations, and flavor principles unique to this translation of Western cuisine by early African American chefs.

You Don’t Get to be 400 By Being Stupid: The Genius of African American Culture

Black culture in America endures a constant tug of war in the court of public opinion between hype, marvel and hypervisibility and being seen as a detriment, a pathology or degradation. Worse, some don’t really believe there is a Black American or African American culture. Join Michael for an exploration of seven secrets to the endurance of African American civilization and how those will be building blocks for the future. What has African American culture been? Where is it going? 400 years after the tragic beginning at Jamestown, Virginia; let’s have a birthday party for Black America celebrating its cultural resilience and rootedness. 
 
Culinary Justice: Defining a Theory of Gastronomic Sovereignty

Michael W. Twitty HeadshotFood justice, social justice, environmental justice, food sovereignty—and entire language has developed around how we want to see and live in a better world where fairness and right action prevail. In an extension of these concepts, Michael has begun to promote his notion of culinary justice—the idea that historically oppressed peoples have a right to authority, sovereignty, prosperity and acknowledgement in their contribution to national and global foodways. Join Michael for a lively discussion to explore the way the preparation of food unites and divides out narratives and how we can use it for the good.

Selected Media

ABC News – KosherSoul with Michael W. Twitty

London (England)

On Roland Martin:

On PBS NewsHour

Michael’s Genetic Reveal (Stagville Historic Plantation, N.C., USA)

Press

Testimonials

Michael (3rd from right) with Toyota Executives at Toyota’s HQ in Plano, TX (February 2020)

“He blew us away! We never have students stay behind to talk with a speaker like they did with Michael. Thanks for everything!” – Philip Ackerman – Leist, Faculty and Director of the GMC Farm & Food Project , Green Mountain College (VT)

“Michael was an absolute joy to have on our campus. The crowd was very engaged I had many people approach me after the event talking about how much they learned. I even had someone state that this was the best event they had seen on our campus! Michael was an absolute joy to work with and very gracious throughout the process. I learned a lot from him and his truth was more than I could have asked for in a speaker.” – Anneliese Wilson, Speaker Event Coordinator, Cultural Events Board, University of Colorado (Boulder)

“Michael’s dynamism drew together people from many backgrounds, and his energy to engage with everyone he met was boundless.  He was able to take on difficult issues such as race, the legacy of slavery, and continuing discrimination of our own time in ways that encourage thoughtful participation from the audience. Michael’s confidence and perseverance in pursuing his mission of historical justice for the contributions of African Americans is truly inspirational.” – Maria Kennedy, Folks Arts Coordinator, The ARTS Council of the Finger Lakes (representing Corning, NY engagements including Corning Community College and Corning, Inc.)

“Michael’s event was an absolute hit. All the students and community members had a fantastic time.” – Lazarus Fellow at Yale’s Sustainable Food Program (CT)

“I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how pleased we were with Michael’s recent Kosher Soul presentation to Beth Israel.  We all loved the personal nature of his stories. He captivated the room from the moment he took the stage and his hour and a half presentation seem to go by in five minutes. I believe everyone in the audience would have stayed and listen to him speak for another hour and a half.  He generously stayed afterwards to make sure everybody’s questions were answered. The consensus was that the event was a homerun and I believe some in attendance were so impressed they will be reaching out to you to book him for other groups.  Thanks to you and him for making this event a huge success.” – Scott Nawy,  Beth Israel Congregation

“Michael’s visit to Shippensburg was outstanding! One faculty member said it was one of the best, most memorable visits for a speaker that he could remember. Students reported that they really enjoyed working with him in the kitchen and that is was a truly unique experience. His talk was also well attended and my students got a great deal out of it. We were still talking about it in class almost a week later. His morning session turned out to be quite well attended also, and he had a great discussion with students.  His overall theme really resonated with the students – reflecting upon the nature of food, our alientation from what we eat in a fast-food society, and the importance of recognizing and taking pride in foodways and traditions.  Our new Director of Social Equity was hoping that speakers brought to campus by the Black Heritage Committee would become more than just a one night event, but might inspire action that would have a lasting impact. I think Michael’s visit did that.”  – Dr. John Bloom, Associate Professor, Dept of History and Philosophy, Shippensburg University (PA)

About Michael

Michael W. Twitty is a recognized culinary historian and independent scholar focusing on historic African American food and folk culture and culinary traditions of historic Africa and her Diaspora. He is a living history interpreter and historic chef, one of the few recognized international experts of his craft—the re-construction of early Southern cuisine as prepared by enslaved African American cooks for tables high and low—from heirloom seeds and heritage breed animals to fish, game, and foraged plant foods to historic cooking methods to the table. Michael founded www.Afroculinaria.com, the first website/blog devoted to the preservation of historic African American foods and foodways. He has conducted over four hundred classes and workshops, written curricula and educational programs, giving lectures and performed cooking demonstrations for groups including the Smithsonian Institution, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Carnegie-Mellon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Library of Congress, the Association for the Study of Food and Society, and Oxford University’s Symposium on Food and Cookery. He has been profiled in the Washington Post and Washington Prost Magazine, the New York Times, Grist, PittsburghPost-Gazette, Cuisine Noir, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Jet Magazine, Ebony.com, and other periodicals. He has also been interviewed multiple times on NPR including the acclaimed food program The Splendid Table and Poppy Tooker’s Louisiana Eats. In 2013, he made several major appearances on television connected to his work including Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern, PBS’ Time Team America, and Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Michael was one of 20 people selected globally as a 2016 TED Fellow (you can hear his talk here). His book, The Cooking Gene, won two James Beard Awards in 2018 for Food Writing and Best Book and his piece in Bon Apetit, I Had Never Eaten in Ghana Before. But My Ancestors Had was nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award and was selected to be included in The Best American Food Writing 2019. In 2020, The Cooking Gene was named #2 on Book Authority’s list of the Top 60 food books of all time. Michael’s next book, Kosher Soul, is available on pre-order here.

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Aman Ali

Aman Ali shares his heartfelt, funny, human stories about being Muslim in today’s world.  Storytelling is his superpower.

Past Speaking Engagements

 
New England Study Abroad Returnees Conference
Skidmore College
Saint Louis University
Augusta University
Widener University
Elmhurst College
National Society for Leadership and Success
United States Department of State
 

Speaking Options

Creating Inclusive Spaces at Work (for virtual or in person teams)

As a person of color, Aman deeply understands the importance of creating safe and inclusive spaces for diverse people what true allyship looks like.  In this talk, Aman uses storytelling to build trust and to remind us of how necessary DEI is in the workplace and what simple steps companies can take to make all people feel heard and seen. 

Muslim in the Next Cube (for virtual or in person teams)

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when that Muslim colleague of yours slips out to pray, or what that unique food s/he is heating up in the microwave is, or why your colleague may avoid shaking hands with the opposite sex, you’ll be in for some answers! In true Aman Ali style, this is a fun and lighthearted way for human resources, employees and teams to imagine creating a welcoming and respectful environment for the Muslim employees in your office.
 
 

Ask Me Anything – I’m Muslim!

Aman Ali was raised in Ohio and as he describes, he “was the only brown kid” in his school. As a result, he has spent his lifetime explaining his Muslim faith to others and has learned to do so with sensitivity, humor, and an open heart. There are NO questions that he won’t field as he has likely answered them before! If you wonder who Muslims worship, what it is like to fast at Ramadan, what happens at the mosque, how dating works, why some Muslims don’t touch alcohol and some do, why Muslims come from many different ethnic backgrounds, how praying in a language he doesn’t speak fluently is important, and why Mecca is a goal for Muslims, THIS presentation is for you! Through storytelling and humor, Aman presents a crash course in Islam 101 (in a playful way) and then fields questions.

Stand Up Comedy

Aman is a journalist by day, but a stand up comedian almost any other hour of the day! He is a superb storyteller and his humor crosses all faith, ethnic and age groups. His “funny bone” has been featured on HBO and in countless comedy venues around the world. 

Selected Media

Sizzle Reel

 

Aman Ali on HBO

Trailer for Two Gods (Aman’s documentary)

Selected Links

Testimonials

“Splendid is really too conservative of a word to describe what Aman did yesterday. He is really good at reading an audience and was supremely engaging. Thank you for providing us with this opportunity–Definitely money well spent!”  – Administrator, Ashland University

“Aman truly is a wonderful storyteller! He really connected with our students by opening up with humor, and I could tell they felt comfortable asking him questions. Aman’s stories show that if we all just talked openly with people more often, the world would be a much more peaceful place. Very inspiring.” – Tiffany Takahashi, Administrative Assistant in the International and Postdoctoral Services Office at Augusta University

“I really can’t say enough about what a great presentation Aman gave last night. I think the opening stories and comedy made students so much more comfortable to be engaged. A coworker and I actually noticed a lack of uncomfortable shifting in seats and the accompanying squeaking as the night went on. I was proud of our students for asking good questions – Aman did a great job of making it a comfortable environment to ask anything. I think the work Aman is doing is so important and it was awesome to see students get that, too. It’s been awesome to work with you – we meet again in January to start our discussion of next year’s IEW lineup, so I’ll be reviewing your website. Thanks for being so helpful and easy to work with.” – Samantha Fracka, Marketing and Web Specialist, International Programs, Missouri State University

“We had a great event with a great turnout from the Edgewood and broader Madison communities (over 150 people!). I’m very hopeful that Aman’s show gave people a new/different perspective on Islam and energized them to engage in interfaith dialogue…all while laughing and having fun. Thank you for all of your guidance, patience, and coordination throughout the past few months. You have been wonderful to work with! Last night was an early kick-off to our celebration at Edgewood and we’re off to the most amazing start. ” – Sara Friar, Co-Director of Global Education, Edgewood College

“It was one of the best events I have ever been to at my university (and I go to almost one a day). The two presenters were great speakers and kept it interesting.”  – Student, DePauw University

“Hearing the story of your journey reminded us how amazing being a Muslim American actually is. It was nice to hear the stories of Muslim families trying to make it in the US. Nicely done!”  – Student, Loyola College

“For the first time, I felt like I could really connect in a way with those who follow the Muslim faith. Their use of humor was, I thought, a much more effective tactic for engaging others in inquiring further into Muslim-American identity than typical news stories, which tend to promote misunderstanding and fear. Laughing at or with something makes it seem much more approachable. I really appreciated Aman’s use of humor in telling a story that not many non-Muslims would initially be able to relate to.” – Student, DePauw University

“Saw you last night at Harvard and thought your presentation was fantastic!” – Student, Harvard University

“I think it is great what you are doing and you also inspired me to embrace my religion more than I do – thanks Aman!”  – Student, Ramapo College

About Aman

Aman Ali is an award winning storyteller in New York City and one of the most popular social media personalities in the Muslim community today. His passionate and animated tales he regularly posts to Facebook continue to go viral by the thousands daily. In 2015, he was named by YouTube as a “Content Creator to Watch” and in 2016 he was invited guest at Eid Al-Fitr at the White House. 

Aman is also one of the only young American Muslims in the public spotlight today. He’s made appearances on dozens of media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, HBO, BBC, and NPR to talk about the shenanigans of growing up as a Muslim in America. He has presented at Google, YouTube, The Newseum, National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA), Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Film Institute, US State Department (and at 15+ U.S. Embassies around the world), The United Nations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Good Pitch USA. 

Aman has performed in 27+ countries and all 50 states to crowds of all ages, cultures and religions by bringing people together with his heartfelt stories. He was dubbed as one of the top newsmakers of 2010 by CNN for his project 30 Mosques in 30 Days – a 25,000 mile road trip he took driving to all 50 states in the U.S. with the mission of telling groundbreaking stories of Muslim Americans.

Aman’s skill in painting pictures with his words comes from his strong journalism background. Ali spent almost 10 years traveling the country as a crime and politics reporter for several news outlets including USA Today, Reuters, Yahoo News and CNN. 

In his latest creative venture, Aman has served as the co-director of the documentary “Two Gods” about a group of Muslim morticians trying to stop gang violence in Newark, New Jersey. 

Who Caught Your Eye?

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
Select from the speakers listed below.*
Please select one or more speakers of interest.
Appearance Preference
Please select the preferred appearance location.
Please tell us more! Who is your audience? What are you goals? Why do the speakers interest you? Do you want a standard talk with Q&A or something more?
Please enter the venue name. Not required if an online appearance.
Venue Location
Please enter the address of the venue location. Not required if an online appearance.
Please enter an ESTIMATED budget for the speaker fee and travel. (This field will only accept one amount and not a range.)
Please enter a date or date range in the text field provided.
How did you hear about us?*

What else do we need to know to make this a great event? Don't hold back!
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.