I have only just begun delving into the world of the food justice movement. For a couple weeks now I have been sorting through articles and video clips documenting the initiatives made by numerous people of color to get better access to land and quality food. The food justice movement addresses how past injustices, from enslavement to sharecropping, have shaped communities of color today, and advocates for power and equality. Already I have noticed a pattern. From names, such as Karen Washington, Leah Penniman, Dara Cooper, and many more, the food justice movement is largely led by women of color. I have been asking myself, as a white college student studying how gender is shaped by society, why that is, and what I can learn through exploring the deep roots of injustice in the US, challenged by years of activism, so that I can better appreciate why women of color have taken the reins on this issue and blazed forward.
I have been thinking back to moments in history where women of color have organized around food insecurity. In the late 60s and 70s, black women in the Black Panther Party emphasized the need to provide black folk with services for their daily oppressions. This concept was coined “survival pending revolution” (Dr. Farmer, 2019). Black women saw the need to address the short term effects of systematic racism that inhibited black folk from progressing, and that included food. The Free Breakfast Program provided food to children who were starving or lacking enough nutrients to succeed in school. Black women were at the forefront advocating for their communities, and addressing basic needs that were not being met for people of color.
So here we are now, 2020, and the same battle continues. And at the root of the fight around food security is the lack of the most basic need for food in communities of color and the activism needed to gain control and power in an unjust system. I hope to apply what I’ve studied in college to better understand the food justice movement and the role that gender plays in local activism.
-Dorothy Weiss, 12/18/2020
Dr. Farmer, Ashley. The Black Women Intellectuals and Activists Who Revolutionized
Black Power . YouTube , Texas Lutheran University, 9 May 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJunYdEZABY.