In the 2016 film “Barbershop 3: Back in Business,” JD (played by Anthony Anderson) runs a food truck called Gangsta Grub in Chicago. Staffing his truck are young men who were once involved in gang activity. JD not only provides a source of employment for these men and reduces recidivism rates, but he also partners with Calvin (owner of the barbershop) to encourage the local gangs to end the violence and rivalries after the death of one of the beloved youths in the film. While “Barbershop 3” is one of the first popular culture references of Black-owned food trucks, several Black food truck owners have engaged in activism and community empowerment before the film’s release.
I first fell in love with Black food truck activism when I heard about Trap Kitchen in Compton, Calif. through Facebook. Founded by two former rival gang members (a Blood and a Crip), Trap Kitchen has gained national and even international attention from their story. They have used their platform to speak to youth at juvenile detention centers, encouraging the youth to leave the gang life behind and start their own businesses. While Trap Kitchen has gained Instagram celebrity chef status with tens of thousands of followers and attracted a celebrity clientele, I realized their story of community empowerment through cooking is present throughout the country. I began blogging and traveling the country, meeting food truck owners to hear their stories.
This is an excerpt from Cuisine Noir Mag. Click here to read the full post.