WhyHunger’s What Ferguson Means for the Food Justice Movement series is a bold attempt to explore the way in which police violence and institutionalized anti-black racism is deeply interconnected to food, land and Black bodies. What is the connection between the death of Black people at the hands of the state (police shootings) and the death of Black people at the hands of the corporate food system (diet-related disease/land displacement/redlining)?
To lift up critical voices of the movement, WhyHunger’s Beatriz Beckford facilitated a national call with dynamic organizers and activists across the country to gather a collective interrogation of these issues from the perspective of Black activists organizing around food justice. Issue #5 features food justice activist Tanya Fields, who is the Founder and Executive Director of The BLK ProjeK, an economic development enterprise that utilizes the good food movement to provide opportunities for marginalized women and youth of color in the Bronx. In this piece Tanya gives her perspective as a mother, and emphasizes that “radical mothering” and being unapologetic in working to build a community (safety, healthy food, quality education) that your child deserves and can thrive in, will create a more just system for all.
Beatriz Beckford: Black womyn and more specifically Black mothers and families have always been involved in movements and, I would argue, the love of kin and the pursuit of a better quality of life for our loved ones is what often times pushes mothers and families into movement work. How does being a Black womyn and a mother in the food movement create both barriers and opportunities for participating in and leading social change efforts?
Tanya Fields: You make the road by walking. When other moms, particularly low income Black mothers have seen Black women in this space as leaders, the reception is that people feel very inspired and motivated. If this mom with her whole gang of children can do this, in the spirit of creating a better world for our kids and everyone, it plants the seed for everyone else. When you step into motherhood, you don’t stop being a woman but your focus changes. Most mothers will tell you that they put her children’s needs before their own so it would be natural that mothers would want to be an integral part of social change. We want to clothe our children, feed our children and provide our children with the means to live a good life. We strive to enrich their quality of life. That’s why I always say that mothers have to be on the frontlines in movement work because we are creating a world that’s going to be safe and healthy and whole for our children and loved ones.