White Supremacy In Food Justice
White supremacy can seem like a dramatic term, conjuring images of the KKK or Nazi Germany. But a more accurate and total picture includes forms that may seem subtle — especially to white people. White supremacy sometimes has a friendly face; a face full of optimism. It can boil down to the simple assumption that white people tend to do things well. Including things like food justice.
[W]e must be clear that all non-profits and community organizations are not playing on an even field. Groups that are well established, with a track record of managing large amounts of funding are usually viewed more favorably by funders. Additionally, most funders unconsciously feel more comfortable with people who look like them, speak like them, have had similar life experiences and know people that they know. These factors often translate to white led groups having more finances to operate programs than small community organizations that have grown organically from the communities that they serve. The irony is that there is a great deal of funding targeted at programs that serve “urban,” “underserved” (translation – Black or Latino) communities. These predominantly white led non-profits thus need to create a programmatic presence in those communities in order to keep their financial spigots flowing.
Just as we undertake to recognize dukkha arising in pleasant experiences, not just uncomfortable ones, we must also recognize white supremacy even when it comes wearing its soft, subtle, philanthropic faces.
Be Black and Green closes their piece on a positive tip:
Finally, it is not enough to just complain about this disturbing trend of white do-gooders leading food system work in our communities. What is more important is that we engage in an intensive effort to build Black led organizations, and to identify and train Black people to lead the work of teaching gardening, farming, nutrition, cooking and community food system development in the communities in which we live. But it ain’t just about food! Our efforts to provide greater access to healthy food in our communities must by necessity boldly address the larger problem of the vastly inequitable power relationships in this country and how race and class help to define those relationships. Let’s get busy!
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