'Grow Your Own Food, Be Sustainable…[Just Be Out by Sundown if You Don't Look Like Taylor Swift]'

Sundown (1)

The above image is satire. I created it because…

I am on a community food listserv (Comfood). I am also on my community Critical Race and Food Studies list serv. The other day, I sent an email to the wrong listerv (the Comfood one).

On July 24th 2015 I wrote:

Good morning,

I was wondering if people who post events on this list would be willing to let everyone know if the event happening is occurring in a ’sundown’ town. I know ’Sundown’ laws are technically illegal this day in age, but just because it’s illegal to post such signage doesn’t mean it isn’t happening through the USA.

Best,

Breeze

 I immediately sent an apology

I sent that last request about sundown towns to this comfoods listserv by mistake. I thought I had sent it to the community critical race food studies listserv.

Best, 

Breeze

First of all, it didn’t occur to me until someone privately wrote me that it was not an unreasonable request. They thought it was a good idea. I wrote them back privately:

Now that I think about it, it’s ridiculous that I did send an apology (but in all honesty, as a black woman doing anti-racism scholarship around food, I have gotten used to people emailing me that food and racism distract from the ‘good food’ movement).

I started the Critical Race and Food studies listserv several years ago because of this lack of engagement in mainstream ‘good food’/ ‘local food’ circles.

Best,

Breeze

But yea, I have mentioned many times in my blog posts that I am tentative about going to an event around food or veganism if I don’t know whether or not it’s in a region of the USA that was or still informally is a ‘sundown’ town.

This is a reasonable request. And it’s a really sad and depressing thing that I have to make that request in 2015. And it’s even more sad that I felt compelled to apologize because I didn’t want to make Comfood feel “uncomfortable” (Let’s face it, most content is ‘post-racial’ or at least doesn’t engage with the realities of systemic racism and normative whiteness on the food system).

What is even more frustrating is that the ComFood list has hundreds of members. No one publicly engaged with what I had written or even suggested that what it implies is something that shouldn’t be swept under the rug… and only 2 people privately wrote me back in response. 1 requested to be added to my Critical Race and Food Studies Listserv and the other had sent me the private message about them thinking that my request was not unreasonable at all.

I guess even though it was a mistake to initially have sent to the wrong listserv, I am blown away by the lack of engagement with what I had accidentally sent, by the community at large…Especially since the widespread coverage of Sandra Bland’s death and what it means to travel while Black has been blasted everywhere it seems. (You know, maybe this would get some of the ‘what does race and racism have to do with [white] community food building’ folk to make the connection about how safe it is to be Black in the USA while driving to your new job or some other professional venue for your work.  Blogged about this a few days ago here.)

What does a food sustainability workshop or event look like in mostly white spaces, when there is acknowledgment of systemic racism as unsustainable…? No matter how many lessons about permaculture or canning, systemic racism is not sustainable or healthy. (And yes, there are plenty of people of color doing these workshops that acknowledge systemic racism as non-sustainable and that anti-racism and food security are intertwined…I’m more concerned about the other folk.)

I also am thinking about the ways in which many mainstream [white] vegans engage in debates about “humane” meat being not humane or sustainable at all, with omnivorous locavores. What do workshops and retreats about veganic permaculture (and similar) look like in mostly white spaces?  Do these spaces normally engage in dismantling systemic racism and speciesism to redefine ‘humane’ and sustainable? (Perhaps they are already doing it and I just haven’t experience it yet? If you know of any, please let me know!)…And if you don’t know what veganic permaculture is, click here and learn more!

So, that was what was on my mind today…

I’l be talking a lot more about these issues in my upcoming book (see below).

Recipes for Racial Tension HeadCover
Forthcoming, 2016.

Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Donate and/or Find out about our upcoming projects and books.
Also, download the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matters spring 2015 conference recordings.

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9 thoughts on “'Grow Your Own Food, Be Sustainable…[Just Be Out by Sundown if You Don't Look Like Taylor Swift]'

  1. It is important to bring attention to “sundown” towns. I grew up on a rural route, and the town named in that rural route was touted as a “sundown” town. No one makes mention of this much anymore…it was more openly talked about and known when I was young. But, like way too many things, the practices of racism…instead of disappearing or stopping…just morphed or became hidden. This kind of crap still exists and bringing it back into awareness is necessary and needed if it is to be confronted and ended.

    Thank you.

  2. ComFood has THOUSANDS of subscribers, but I am not surprised by the lack of the responses on that topic. The last time the group engaged critically on a topic of race and food was when Tanya Fields was dropped from the TedxManhattan roster because of perceptions of her image/language/content.

    This is exhausting and extremely underpaid work, but as long as you have the capacity for it, I hope you keep talking about it.

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