Join us for a discussion on how race and racism play out in our food system. We'll be at the Humanist Hub from 5-8pm on April 3oth. Find out more and RSVP here.
Recently I read Mychal Denzel Smith's Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education. He starts the book recalling the killing of Trayvon Martin:
The only weapons found on Trayvon’s body were the can of Arizona Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles he had just purchased from the local 7-Eleven, but it was Zimmerman, with a gun on his hip, they believed had cause to fear for his life. For those people, Trayvon was everything they ever believed black men to be.
For the rest of us, Trayvon Martin became another of our martyrs. His name became a rallying cry, his Skittles, a reminder of lost innocent, his hoodie a symbol of resistance, his family a living memory of what American racism steals from us.
I think we can all agree the murder of Trayvon Martin was one of many stark examples of racism in our recent American history. The numerous implicit bias based assumptions of George Zimmerman that led him to pull a gun on a 17 year old boy give us one of the clearest examples of interpersonal racism. The subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman expose the deep hold systemic racism has on our country.
What grabbed me while reading Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching, though were the Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea. For Mychal Denzel Smith they were symbols of innocence of a 17 year old boy. I don't disagree, but I also see other manifestations of systemic racism. George Zimmerman's gun was faster and more definitive, but I would argue that racism is also behind many of the problems we see in the food system such as food deserts, cheap food, obesity, and the exploitation of cheap labor. To pull just one statistic: for every 1 white woman diagnosed with diabetes there are nearly 2 black women diagnosed with the disease.
So I believe if we want to get serious about food justice, we need be serious about dismantling white supremacy and addressing systemic racism as well.
Suggested background materials.
I try to keep these materials to around 2 hours of reading, listening, and viewing or less. I'm always looking for more (and better) materials so please send them my way if you have suggestions,
If you've recently done a deep dive into systemic racism, you are likely familiar with these articles. If you've never read them or haven't revisited them recently I encourage reading them (again).
Race, Racism, and Our Food System:
What do we do?
Bonus Materials (not planned as part of the discussion):