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Hi, everyone, my name is Roy Vu, and I teach History at Dallas College North Lake Campus. Today I'll be presenting a paper on Family, Food and Freedom: African Diasporic Family Ties Via Emancipatory Foodways.
My presentation will encompass all three.
And as far as my personal interest in Civil Rights Movement and Black History Month, it stems from the fact that I'm a son of Vietnamese refugee parents.
And in regards to the Vietnam War, I was -- I found Martin Luther King's statements on the Vietnam War profound.
For instance, during the civil rights era, he remarked that unfortunate a disproportionate number of black men, poor black men, as well as poor whites from the south, were being shipped overseas to fight the war in Vietnam, and as a result, they endured unfortunately the highest number of casualties.
Another historic focal point that intersects my own personal history with black history and the civil rights era is the fact that in regards to Vietnamese refugees, and there were so many in the United States, thanks to civil rights legislation, like Immigration Act 1965, and a little bit later on, civil rights movement, the Refugee Act 1980 those acts would grant political asylum to thousands of Vietnamese refugees, who are fleeing from communist Vietnam, and be able to resettle in countries like the United States.
So those are just the two of many historical intersections that allow me to pique my interest or allow me to pique my interest in terms of learning more about black history and the Civil Rights Movement.
And of course, history is personal, right? Everyone has their own history.
So in fact, I like to always say to my students, history never ends until every story is told.
And in regards to today's story, again, as I mentioned, a moment ago, I'll be covering African American diasporic foodways, tying in with emancipatory foodways.
So without further ado, let me go ahead and begin with a quote from civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
"Down where we are, food is used as a political weapon.
But if you have a pig in your backyard, if you have some vegetables in your garden, you can feed yourself and your family and nobody can push you around.
If we have something like some pigs and some gardens and a few things like that, even if we have no jobs, we can eat it, and we can look after our families." End of quote.
This is from Fannie Lou Hamer. She was a civil rights activist and founder, Freedom Farm Cooperative.
Family members, quote, encapsulates the ties that bind family, food, and freedom.
And also, the topic of my presentation and this is presentation goes along with a solace theme for 2021 on the black family.
And so, it's important that we celebrate black foodways and how such black foodways help emancipate African Americans, not just during the civil rights era, but even before back in the days of slavery, and of course, to new African American foodways that are going on today in the 21st century.
So let me move on to -- ooops. Let's move on to Michael W. Twitty, a culinary historian and recipient of the 2018 James Beard Award.
He made -- in his book, "The Cooking Gene", he made numerous references to food and race.
So in the history of African Americans and the certificates of food and preserving and protecting and expanding black culture, Twitty poignantly analyzes that, "The food is, is in many cases, all we have, all we can go to in order to feed," I'm sorry, "all we can go to in order to feel our way into the past.
For others, we are on interesting note on pages of a very different conversation.
For African Americans and our allies, food is the gateway into larger conversations about individual and group survival.
It is a lie that food is just fuel. It has always had layers of meaning." And he admits, "for the most part, despite meaningless food."
He further assesses on the points of protecting, preserving and promoting African cuisines that have been Southernized in the United States.
"Through history is not in the food, it's in the people.
We'll work against the loss of our cultural memory against the consequences of institutional oppression, against indiscriminate flagrant appropriation and against courts of public opinion that question our authenticity, maturity, and motives of the revolutionary act of clarifying and owning our past.
It is my belief that the very reason we are here in space and time is deliberately connected to our journey with food.
The only question I ever wanted to ask for myself was, how is my destiny shaped by the history of Southern food?"
So here, Twitty poses a crucial and valuable question, to what extent in working against loss of cultural memory could African foodways be remembered and reinvigorated, survive, recapture, and expand, while overcoming the destructive, violent cultural genocide brought forth by the ongoing consequences of slavery, Jim Crowism, institutional racism, and cultural appropriation.
It is a question that must be recognized, addressed, and deliberated with meaningful action to combat and reverse the loss of cultural memory.
Moving on to African Diasporic Foodways from Slavery to Jim Crow Era, of which I don't have the time to delve deeply into the history of African diasporic foodways during slavery, but I'll just give you a snippet of what African slaves managed, or how African slaves managed to regain some food sovereignty, in other words, regain some control over what they consume.
OK. All right. So going far back into early American history.
Scholar Monica White argues that African slaves planted gardens and raised crops as a form of resistance.
She declares that, "The millions of men, women and children who were kidnapped from the homelands in Africa, and transported through the Middle Passage in the most extreme case of forced deportation in world history possessed knowledge in microclimates, and the particular kinds of crops that they could grow in places where they were as told as enslaved.
In addition to human cargo, slave ships carried African food staples, seeds, roots and vegetables that are produce, and livestock.
These staples would feed the crew and minimally the enslaved, but they're also incorporated into our culture of plantation economies, and became critical to the survival and wellbeing of both those living in slavery and their captors.
Researchers identify their African yams or root, bananas, hibiscus, millet, okra, pigeon peas, plantains, rice, sesame, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and on and on, to the Americas and the Caribbean throughout the Middle Passage."
So in the history of American slavery regarding the food distribution consumption of South, despite the plethora of food staples bought forth by African slaves, scholar Marcie Cohen Ferris says that slave owners often gave their slaves the less desirable parts of an animal, such as the fish head and backbone, or the hog's tail, brain, gizzard, and chitterlings.
These were typical on most southern plantations, unfortunately.
So Cohen writes, "Enslaved cooks improvised cooking methods that transform tougher cuts, as well as awful, the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal into tasty dishes."
OK. So oftentimes, to nourish themselves for survival and improved health, African slaves would seek ways to regain some food security, reclaim the food heritage and reestablish the food sovereignty to have some control over their own food consumption and diet.
The foods given to African slaves by the slave owners were woefully short and inadequate of supplementing a balanced healthy diet.
African slaves resort, therefore, to their creative culinary skills and ingenuity to transform the leftovers into wholesome delicious meals with some nutritional value.
Consequently, African slaves and the cultivation food gardens would become another act of slave resistance.
So by cultivating herbs, vegetables and fruits, African slaves sought food resistance to meet their own health needs.
Scholars have identified the location of slave gardens or provision kitchen gardens -- kitchen grounds, excuse me on many former plantations, including the remnants of African seed, and root crops that eventually made their way to diets of contemporary Americans.
Most likely work on Saturday or Sunday, according to White, "Those who were enslaved grew crops such as various types of squash, yams, sweet potatoes, various kinds of peas, such as guinea peas from New Guinea and for soil fertility, it serverd more purposes cow and pigeon peas."
White goes on to argue that slave gardens are performances of resistance.
Well, gardening these crops are performance of slave resistance, arguing that, "Yet it seems likely that enslaved people decided what to grow, how to grow it, and what to do with the harvest in these gardens.
Thus, slave gardens represented independent production grounds, it can be understood as a strategy of resistance to corrupt system and an effort to create food security."
Food -- Therefore food provisioning can be seen as liberatory, enslaved people is using food production as a strategy of developing social relations and some autonomy.
For those who were enslaved, this practice of growing food, especially foods for the Motherland, and the social exchanges that went on in the marketplaces were also opportunities to enact freedom.
Using food production the slaves were able to practice the cultural and ceremonial uses of land that are brought with them as a way to celebrate their ancestors and the homeland they left behind.
Therefore, examples of black farming as resistance occurred during the transition from slavery to reconstruction, and well into the Jim Crow era."
So here, we talked about African foodways, as well as Afro-Caribbean foodways from the Middle Passage where millions of slaves were forced into bondage and transported in slave ships cross the Atlantic Ocean, making their way to the Americas.
So this journey would be known as the Middle Passage.
But along the way, slaves end up at places like Haiti and Cuba, throughout the Caribbean, and, of course, the United States, as well as South America.
They would carry with them Afro-Caribbean foodways or traditions that would help them live and survive and of course, would give them a more balanced diet.
And again, as I mentioned, slave gardens are perceived as an act of resistance.
So for slaves themselves, who cultivated these food variants, they are basically active agents of history where they would enact a form of resistance.
And in regards to black American farmers of the Jim Crow era, this is where I will talk about next.
And to give an example, since during my sabbatical, I did some research in Houston, my main area of interest was Vietnamese Americans and their home gardens, but along the way, I learned more -- also learned more about African American foodways in Houston, and the history of such foodways in Houston.
So Houston, Texas, there's a long tradition of black residents who cultivate their own vegetable gardens that remains today.
Historian Tyina Steptoe aptly explains the migration of blacks Southerns from Louisiana and East Texas,the migration to Houston at Jim Crow era, racial segregation violence toward African Americans.
She describes this as development in black settlement of its residential wards during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Steptoe profoundly analyzes, "The wards by Houston feel like a collection of small towns rather than one city."
Thelma Scott Bryant [assumed spelling], who was born in Third Ward in 1905, commented that her neighborhood felt very much like the country in the early 20th century.
Likewise, musician Arnett Cobb, who came of age in Fifth Ward described community of his youth as a country town.
Indeed, many of the people who moved to his neighborhood from the country continued the same customs and agricultural practices, they have brought forth -- that brought with them for the countryside, excuse me.
Most families raised chickens and grew okra, greens, corn, other subsistence crops in the backyards."
Here, African American migrants brought to Houston their own customs of raising their own vegetables, herbs, and farm animals when they lived in the countryside, but kept with them when we're selling and Houston, and thus preserving their cultural practices.
Historian, author and colleague Dr. Malcolm Fryer refers such aforementioned practices as cultural continuities, which are integral to cartel cultural appropriations, and marginalization of their food heritage.
So cultural continuities is just carrying farming customs from the rural to urban environment is one of many contributions blacks and the migrants have brought to Houston, enriching the city's polycultural world, despite under Jim Crowism.
That introduced the concept of urban farming in early 20th century long before the term itself became part of the American vernacular and trendy in the 21st century.
Furthermore, African Americans' cultural continuity via urban farming adds to the unique characteristics of Houston's urban development and growth, and the people who make the city.
Right. Now, going to transition to the civil rights era, Black Home Cooks, Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Farmers in the Civil Rights Era, in which no food no justice, no peace.
I will share a few stories. There's a lot more, but I'll just share three stories today just to make sure that I won't overextend my time.
So, transition to civil rights era. Let me share a few examples of black home cooks, farmers, chefs and restaurateurs who fed, housed and protected civil rights activists, starting off with Georgia Teresa Gilmore and her Club from Nowhere.
Scholar Marcie Cohen Ferris, "The attention of the nation turned to Montgomery Alabama December 1, 1955, where Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress and civil rights activist refused to give up her seat in the back of a crowded city bus to a white man and was arrested.
That day marked a historic turning point in the evolving civil rights movement as Montgomery's black community with well known leaders such as Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr., to little known figures such as Georgia Teresa Gilmore, a local cook organized mass meetings and bake sale fundraisers to protest the city segregation laws."
So first, sheds greater light on the role of lesser known civil rights activists, like Georgia Gilmore.
She explains that, "Georgia Gilmore walked to and from the National Lunch Company where she worked every day during the boycott, until she was fired after testifying in court in Montgomery.
Undeterred, she cooked from her own home and organized the Club from Nowhere, a name chosen to ensure the anonymity and safety of its members.
The working class black woman from nowhere raised funds to support the carpools by selling homemade pies and cakes at local beauty parlors, Laundromats, and gas stations.
Each week Gilmore reported club success to the standing ovations of volunteers, gathered the mass meetings led by Reverend King.
The pie and cake money brought station wagons used in the boycott carpools. I'm sorry. The pie and cake money bought station wagons used in the boycott carpools.
Gilmore eventually turned part of her home into a public dining area thanks to encouragement and startup funds from King and the Montgomery Improvement Association, which coordinated the boycott.
She created a backdoor restaurant where black and white customers, attorneys, activists, barbers, doctors, preachers and politicians alike could enjoy her fried chicken, pork chops, stuffed bell peppers, macaroni and cheese, and chitterlings.
In November 1956, US Supreme Court declared segregation of public houses to be unconstitutional, and the boycott ended.
Georgia Gilmore continued to feed the civil rights movement 10 years after the Montgomery bus boycott.
She prepared food for participants in historic Selma to Montgomery march."
Food scholar John T. Edge would add to that quote, "Threatened whites recognize," I'm sorry, "threatened whites recognized that Georgia Gilmore's house on the Deracote Street [assumed spelling]served as clubhouse for progressive black Montgomery, so did King.
In fact Gilmore's house restaurant which started the divide between dining hall and private club defined a welcome table ideal that would emerge as a primary metaphor in the civil rights movement.
After she stepped away for her job at National Lunch to claim her own business underground black economy, her success hit too of the moves come during the Black Power stage of the Civil Rights Movement, when instead of angling for the integration whitespaces, African Americans created black spaces at a moment when they had seemingly low leverage cooking for the brave black women intimate and essential power."
Moving on to Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Farm Cooperative.
Fannie Lou Hamer founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative in 1967.
Scholar Monica White explains, "The Freedom Farm Cooperative was an antipoverty strategy to meet the needs of impoverished residents of Louisville, Mississippi, in Sunflower County.
Freedom Farm was a community based rural and economic development project.
Its members were unemployed farmers who have been dispossessed of access to land and displaced by mechanization."
White goes on to analyze that Freedom Farm represents opportunity to stay in the South, live off the land, and create a healthy community based on building alternative food system as a cooperative and collective effort.
Fannie Lou Hamer, White praises her political accumen and intellectual fortitude to connect food security with voting rights.
"In her work with SNCC and with the Mississippi freedom Democratic Party, she connected starvation of people in Sunflower County, not only to pressure to migrate but also to the pressure not to register to vote."
From Fannie Lou Hamer, "Nobody told us we have to move from Mississippi. Nobody tells us we're not wanted, but when you're starving, you know."
So in creating Freedom Farm as a means to develop a stable black community on the foundation of agriculture, Hamer illuminated, the relationship between economic self-sufficiency and political power and translated the theory into action.
In an effort to increase access to healthy food, FFC's members worked collaboratively in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the crops in the community gardens.
And the community spaces, 30 in the first 40 acres were dedicated to subsistence crops and community garden where co-op members planted greens, kale, turnips, corn, sweet potatoes, okra, tomatoes, butter beans, and more.
In 1972, these subsistence crops are more than 1,600 families.
At least 10% of the community garden harvest was donated to needy families whose members were unable to work the fields.
Cooperative families share the remainder, and if there was more than they needed, FFC shipped the surplus to feed needy families as far away as Chicago."
White goes on to say that the Freedom Farm Cooperative would also help families who were displaced by the automobile industry and its families in urban areas who struggled to gain access to healthy food, and adequate and healthy, I'm sorry, adequate affordable housing, clean water, and quality education, and healthcare deployment as well.
White argues that "FFC developed a model community resilience and collective agency as a foundation for political action that speaks to those who live in food insecure communities, such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago and New Orleans.
It offers a new way for those who historically -- who have historically been excluded to build sustainable communities."
So between 1969 and Hamers's death in 1976, the Freedom Farm Cooperative increased from originally from 40 acres to several 1,000 acres, and it was used for food production.
It was also used for cash crops of corn and soybeans, and provide housing entrepreneur activities.
Food scholar John T. Edge argues that Hamer's intrepid commitment to black food production in 1960s to 1970s set precedents "for current dialogues about food sovereignty."
One more example, we like to talk about the Black Panther Party and the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which started 1969, ended in 1980.
The Black Panther Party advocate for food justice, fighting against food security that plagued black neighborhoods.
Edge asserts that, "Bobby Seale helped found the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense 1966, focused his attentions on food too.
Inspired by the rhetoric of Malcolm X, and anti-colonialism in Africa, Seale, like other Panthers, argued that power will allow blacks to gain land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace."
Sociologist Alison Hope Alkon views that "The West Oakland farmers market has roots in the Black Panther Party, which emphasized community self-determination and self-sufficiency.
The Black Panthers Party, Free Breakfast for School Children Program tie their political approach to issues of food and hunger.
As recipients of free food, the school children could have characterize -- could be characterized as victims in need of charity.
However, Black Panther Party leaders and volunteers used rhetoric to envision the children are subjects rather than subjugated objects, by referring them as little brothers, little sisters, and the only assurance we have of a new indifferent tomorrow, the Black Panther Party posited children as entitled to rather than merely in need of free food."
Alkon 41 further elucidates that the -- end of quote, sorry. Alkon further elucidates that, Free Breakfast for School Children and others of our programs were tailored not only to sustain the black community, but to introduce them to the party's ideals, which included a right to food."
Noble chef and author Brian Terry states that, "In the late 1960s, the Black Panthers had this brilliant analysis around the intersection of poverty, malnutrition, and institutional racism.
They wanted to liberate black communities, and they know that providing food for young people was key."
Now, there are many other examples as well, including Chef Leah Chase, who passed away back in 2019 at the age 96.
She fed several US presidents at her creole restaurant, Dooky Chase, a famed restaurant in the New Orleans' Treme neighborhood.
So her beloved Creole restaurant in New Orleans' Treme neighborhood had long been important being an eating place for civil rights leaders in the city, go all the way back to the 1960's Freedom Riders, for instance.
And there are many other examples as well.
So these are just a few examples that provided today.
Moving on to a few photos.
This one is of Georgia Gilmore as she adjusts her hat for photographers during the bus boycott, Montgomery bus boycott trial of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama.
Yeah, Fannie Lou Hamer, a fierce advocate of civil rights and food justice.
Again, she was the founder of the Freedom Farm Cooperative.
And, again, tying in or connecting the issues of civil rights with food justice, Hamar and others advocated the right of African Americans to gain food sovereignty.
And then you have the Black Panther Party, one of the cofounders, Bobby Seale here checking the food bags provided for school children.
As we all know, 2020, 2021 unfortunately, we've seen many videos and images of long lines of food banks and school children today not having access to school breakfast and lunch programs.
And so, this issue remains unfortunately prevalent today among US school children.
And going back to the Black Panther Party, they're one of the early advocates, if not the first, to establish a free breakfast program for schoolchildren.
Another photo here, Black Panther serving children free breakfast at Sacred Heart Church in San Francisco, California.
We're going to move on to Black Food Geographies, African American Urban Farms and Gardens Today.
I met you at the West Oakland Farmers Market which was inspired by the Black Panther Party.
I'm not going to delve too much into the West Oakland Farmers Market for -- you know, to save some time.
So for West Oakland Farmers Market, you have the influence of Black Panther Party that would lead to farmers and food gardeners in Oakland to establish a farmers market of their own in West Oakland.
And so, not only would you have an opportunity for black farmers gardeners to sell their produce and earn some income, but also these farmers, gardeners at such farmers markets, like the West Oakland Farmers Market would provide African Americans, in particular West Oakland, access to healthier food options, OK, particularly in areas that has food deserts, lacking in healthy food options.
OK. Moving on to the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and the D-Town Farm.
I want to spend more time on this.
Scholar Monica White contends that, "Across generations, black Detroiters are using our culture as a way to convert vacant lots with overgrown grass into community gardens that serve as social spaces.
These spaces now function as community centers where people learn about healthy eating, increased access to healthy food, and receive health services.
They're a place where intergenerational relationships are nurtured and maintained, and where residents have a safe space for exercise.
For many in Detroit, the new relationships they forge between land, food and freedom are response to the housing foreclosure crisis, the closing public schools, the water shutoff crisis, and issues of policing."
Monica White would further add that for members of the DBCFSN, "They oversee the work of D-Town Farm, which is about two acres, as critical to their survival that became involved in community farming for many reasons, including neighborhood beautification, insuring Detroit residents access to clean healthy food, and become stewards of the environment.
They engage in farming to reallocate land within the city for green purposes for meeting the needs of the local community.
They also engage in farming as community based business strategy oriented toward political change.
They hope that participating in the farm will plant seeds in farm workers' minds, demonstrating the critical nature of community based control of collective resources.
D-Town activist recognized farming as a strategy of resistance and sustainable community building.
As Fannie Lou Hamer did before them, D-Town farmers have built new institutions on their own, and saw an opportunity to work toward food security and food sovereignty, and to gain greater control of the food system that affects their daily lives.
Farming food security became steps towards self-determination and self-reliance.
The community builds and controls its own social institutions, restoring the earth or transforming the food system become possible.
D-Town farmers' resistance strategy focuses on their use of land to create community spaces to teach about healthy eating and to create a new vision of Detroit.
By the 2016 growing season, D-Town farm was producing more than 30 different crops, including acorn, squash, zucchini," I'm sorry, "acorn squash, zucchini, kale, collard greens, tomatoes, basil, green beans, watermelon, beets, turnips, and so on.
An unusually broad spectrum by the way for a city farm.
In addition to the fruit and vegetable herb crops, D-Town farmers maintain a mushroom growing operation and an apiary that produce honey.
D-Town also had hoop houses for year round food production and runs large scale composting operation."
Moving on to the Gardens of Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
Changa Muenda [assumed spelling], born and raised in Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood New Orleans, that was the worst hit community by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, deliberates over the points of home gardening, culture continuity, and food sovereignty for African Americans when rebuilding her neighborhood in the post-Katrina era.
Muenda asserts that, "The gardens are our community centers. It's really about the people first.
The space needs to serve the people.
What I'm focused on is increasing the capacity of these gardens to serve our people and be effective community building tools.
We're building community and replace your old cultural traditions of our neighborhood.
There was a time when everyone here had their own backyard gardens, which is something that they did, sharing produce and helping one another, harvesting from fruit trees that grew around the neighborhood.
This has to be a space that is safe for people who have felt disenfranchised and overlooked.
So that as community, we know these gardens, the projects are not about other folks coming here and deciding what should happen, that this is ours."
I'm spending a little more time on Urban Harvest and Plant It Forward Farms.
This is more my area of research.
In regards to Urban Harvest, here's the food writer David Leftwich, provides some great details about one of the oldest community gardens in Texas, community that was confronted food desert issues, yet at the same time was expanding food sovereignty for African Americans.
Leftwich argues that, "Urban Harvest has community gardens set up in food deserts with the aim toward, for one, the oldest raised bed community garden along the Gulf Coast, and that's the Alabama community garden and Third Ward.
And they are associated with Urban Harvest, but mostly they're running it on their own."
Leftwich elaborates more on Alabama community garden and its mission to serve food desert communities.
"So it's a pretty big community garden, it's primarily African American, like there's a couple of schools that gardens there.
There's certainly a true community garden.
Urban Harvest does a lot of work with the community gardens.
There's this kind of overarching to teach classes, provide logistic support and more.
So to confront, sorry, so to confront food justice and sovereignty challenges, marginalized populations often collaborate with local farmer organizations, such as Urban Harvest, as well as Plant It Forward Farms.
Thus, community home gardens also play a pivotal role in producing enough healthy greens for their family, neighbors, and community.
Such community home gardens give them opportunities to seek food justice and redeem themselves and their food heritage, regain their food sovereignty, particularly in working class food desert neighborhoods, and as a result root and cultivate a part of their culinary citizenship to belong to this land.
I'll explain more about culinary citizenship in a minute.
Now, in regards to Plant It Forward Farms, they are a nonprofit organization that assists new refugee and immigrant groups in Houston to resettle their lives in the city and become urban farmers.
Hundreds of thousands of Congolese refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo have recently experienced the traumas and difficulties of war, displacement, refugee camp life, resettlement and marginalization.
For the more fortunate, some Congolese refugees were eventually granted asylum to resettle in cities like Houston.
In their brief resettlement history, they work tirelessly to earn a decent living wage while residing in working class neighborhoods of Southwest Houston as they adjust to living in a new country.
Nevertheless, despite the overwhelming challenges and odds, the Congolese diaspora in Houston continue to persevere -- continues to persevere and demonstrate resilience in agency, as they develop their own community and retain their food heritage.
[Inaudible] turned to urban farming and home gardening.
Plant It Forward Farms, again, nonprofit organization in Houston, assists Congolese refugee farmers, establishing only sustainable, small scale urban farms that sell fresh locally grown produce.
But the organization also provides farmers opportunity to earn a modest living.
The personal stories of farmers such as Toto Alimasi in Harriet, in Gangwal, are just a few significant stories out of thousands that allow us to critically contextualize and storicize African refugees and immigrants in the United States who attempt to cultivate sustainable small scale urban farms toward achieving emancipatory foodways.
For farmer Toto Alimasi, he raises herbs, vegetables, fruits like amaranth, African eggplant, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane to remind him of his homeland.
Regarding the aforementioned produce, Alimasi asserts, "When we eat this, we feel like home," end of quote.
At a small farm, he walks and guides me to his banana trees and points out several bunches of small bananas with each bunch carrying a dozen or more.
He proudly and joyfully declares, "I grow these banana trees here.
When we eat bananas, we remember Africa."
So that ends our discussion on black food geographies.
Again, there are many more examples, but these are a few examples I wish to share today.
I also want to share just a few photos of Plant It Forward Farms.
Here's -- Here are actually three small Plant It Forward Farms at the Westbury community farm site in Southwest Houston.
It's a beautiful farm site as you can see, right, you know, in the city limits of Houston, Texas.
This is farmer Toto Alimasi, back when I had shorter hair, the pre-COVID-19 days back in October 2019.
It was a pleasure to talk to.
Henriette in Gangwal. She's been a Plant It Forward Farmer since 2018.
Again, these gardens are beautiful, and green, and lush, and again, they're providing healthy food options, right, in neighborhoods, communities that lack such options.
In addition to that, these refugees are earning a decent living by urban farming.
All right. So moving on to Critical Food Studies, Theoretical Frameworks in Emancipatory Foodways.
I won't go into great detail over these theoretical frameworks.
But just to start off real quickly on food sovereignty, actually I have a graph that I want to show you.
Food sovereignty is about having control over some healthy food sources.
If space and resources are available no matter how limited, African diasporans typically cultivate produce to gain access to fresh and affordable food, which leads to better overall diet, health and food security.
When cultivating crops familiar to the African diaspora culture, then African Americans are preserving their food heritage.
By preserving the food heritage, they demonstrate food resistance to unhealthy food options.
They're often ubiquitous in black working class neighborhoods.
To overcome marginalization of their food heritage, they would be agents of food justice, using herbs, fruits, and vegetables from their own farms and gardens to make culinary dishes that remind them of home.
OK. That's the concept -- basic concept food sovereignty.
Moving on to culinary citizenship.
Culinary citizenship expresses the need and control by the oppressed to compensate the suffering and misfortune by cultivating traditional food ways of creating, raising, procuring, consuming, and sharing the food to neighbors and strangers, to friends and foes alike.
Culinary citizenship is a close cousin of agrarian citizenship, but with an emphasis on the urban, suburban, and exotic places, not just the rural locales.
Not unlike agrarian citizenship, however, culinary citizenship also permits the oppressed to remember, recover, redeem, and expand their traditional foodways.
It is the network of systemic practices to grow food to live a dignified life to a freedom from despair, hopelessness, poverty and statelessness.
Moving on to food and culinary justice.
I do have another quote from Michael Twitty.
Quote, "We are surrounded by culinary injustice where some southerners take credit for things that enslaved Africans and their descendants played key roles in innovating."
In other words, Twitty is addressing the issue of cultural appropriation of black food, and the failure to -- our failure to recognize the innovations and ingenuity of black chefs, home cooks, farmers and gardeners.
And one example that we use would be barbecue, right?
The popular biggest fare in the south and the rest of the country as well.
And so, barbecue like he mentioned, "Might go the way of the banjo, an African instrument that most people now associate with bluegrass music played by whites."
For anthropologists Ashante Reese, she argues that, "Food justice is fundamentally about racial justice, because in the United States, racism not only structure everyday practices, I'm sorry, everyday experiences, but also influenced the underdevelopment of neighborhoods and the implementation policies that disproportionately disenfranchise black communities.
Documented in these inequities and eradicating them is essential as we work toward a more just food system.
Self-reliance is neither simply cultural nor simply spatial.
Residents understanding of self-reliance was grounded in historical and spatial context, addressing structural inequalities, while building community using the garden as a central site, which to work.
In this context, feeding the community took on greater meetings that providing fruits and vegetables.
Feeding meant youth development, visions for entrepreneurship, and potentials for strengthening relationships with parents and caregivers."
Going back to Michael Twitty, who calls for culinary justice, Twitty demands culinary justice and defines it definitively as, "The idea that people should be recognized for their gastronomic contributions and have a right to their inherent value including the opportunity to derive empowerment from them.
Today, this widens the lens of food justice, which centers around increasing access to healthy food and helps amplify how culture, food and power interplay and amplifies the agents leading the revolution."
So with the concept of culinary justice, Twitty has certainly advanced our philosophy on food, the production, procurement, preparation, sharing and consumption and remnants of food.
And finally, liberatory agriculture. This comes from scholar Monica White, whom I quoted before.
She argues that, "Liberatory agriculture ignited the imagination of former activists and African American farmer cooperatives during the mid-19th century.
In the 21st century, self-determined agriculture, alongside lessons learned from decades of successes and failures, had the real potential to offer similar opportunity for urban growers who are responding to the harsh conditions of deindustrialization and economic downturn."
Here's an image of culinary historian Michael Twitty, again, the 2018 James Beard Award recipient, and author of "The Cooking Gene."
So to conclude, black food matters.
And I'll start with a quote from Chef Kwame Onwuachi, the author of "Notes from a Young Black Chef", which by the way is North Lakes 2020-2021 Common Book Read, so kudos to our great common book committee. "
My ancestors are those who like Auntie Mi, ground cassava flour for hours, soaked stockfish, and hit kola trees until the nuts fell down.
My ancestors are steeped in the curries and jerk of Jamaica, and found in the stews and roux, gumbos and jambalayas of Louisiana.
It was something I couldn't deny any longer."
So this goes -- this ties in with all the previous concepts we talked about in emancipatory foodways, right.
So farm to freedom delves into how African Americans utilizing foodways will experience greater liberation from the traumas of enslavement, racism, inequity, injustice, poverty, land loss, and food insecurity.
Also allows them to embrace Afro-Caribbean food heritage and roots through farming, cooking, and gardening.
And furthermore, just as Twitty stated, it addresses culinary injustices, right, to right the wrongs.
In addition, for black chefs, home cooks, farmers, gardeners, there's more to black food than just soul food, OK.
So going beyond soul food, black food is diverse, it's complex, it's healthy.
Think about the different regions when you look at Afro-Caribbean cuisine, right, stretching from Africa to various parts of the Caribbean, to the Americas, right?
In addition, not only that, you have in terms of soul food, the diversity of soul food itself.
Today, you have vegan soul food and chefs creating -- or staff should begin soul food restaurants in creating vegan dishes, right?
So in other words, you know, black food matters and black food is diverse, complex and healthy.
In regards to 21st century African diaspora foodways, it's about the perseverance, right, and the preservation, as well as expansion and celebration of black food.
And just to complete our presentation for today, here's a photo of Chef Kwame Onwuachi, author of "Notes for Young Black Chef".
And also, I want to show you photograph of Chef Mashama Bailey, 2019 change James Beard Award recipient.
And Mashama Bailey, a black chef in Savannah, Georgia established restaurant called the Grey Restaurant.
Her work reclaims segregated spaces for integrated dining.
And it was, by design, it was with a purpose, right?
Chef Bailey was, as mentioned, the 2019 James Beard Award recipient.
She transformed what was a generation ago a segregated Greyhound bus terminal into an award winning restaurant called the Grey, now serving as an integrated dining space.
OK. All right. So that concludes my presentation for today.
I do have a list of books should you wish to read more about African American, I'm sorry, African diasporic foodways, as well as emancipatory foodways.
I recommend all these books, particularly again, Kwame Onwuachi's "Notes for Young Black Chef", as well as Michael Twitty's "Cooking Gene." Monica White's "Freedom Farmers" is a marvelous piece of work as well, and many others.
So my question is for students and the rest of the audience, what does black food mean to you?
How can we preserve and expand black foodways from Africa to the Caribbean to the United States and around the world?
In what ways could we honor and celebrate black chefs, home cooks, farmers, gardeners, and restaurateurs?
What steps are necessary to improve racial and gender inequalities in the culinary world?
And I'll end with another quote from Chef Onwuachi, "I want to see the world in which not only the food from the African diaspora but the food from Africa is given the respect it deserves.
When I push open the kitchen doors, I want to see dining room full of diners, but especially brown and black diners who look at their plates, feel seen, celebrated, and recognized.
And when I look in the mirror, I want to see a young black chef who made that world a reality."
This is just a wonderful illustration by an artist.
And that's Fannie Lou Hamer. Well, not the artist, I'm sorry, this is an illustration of Fannie Lou Hamer and her influence on African diasporic foodways.