Spoken Word Project: Introduction

The Spoken Word Project features interviews with local food justice advocates exploring the impact of power, privilege and racism in the food system. Listen to stories and inspirations directly from grassroots leaders creating change.

The Race and the Food System Spoken Word Project, a Food Security Learning Center project, is a continuing partnership between WhyHunger, Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI), and Growing Power, Inc. The interviews that follow are one piece of the larger process of developing a shared language and facilitating a common understanding of the historical roots of racism in the United States, in order to effectively implement strategies for change. This is a critical path towards transforming organizational structures that can end hunger and poverty through the development of sustainable and just food systems in our communities.

The interviews that follow offer snapshots from farmers, planners, educators, students, local food entrepreneurs, market managers, government officials, and activists, diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, history, and culture. Each of these individuals contributes to current thought and practice of how to dismantling racism through, with, or in the food system. Though some are experienced anti-racism facilitators, many have only recently begun to articulate their thoughts and feelings on the subject. Together, they form a mosaic of voices, sometimes overlapping, sometimes opposing, and always engaging.

Across all backgrounds, interviewees courageously responded to the initial call for participants because of their dedication to developing dialogue. Everyone who applied was accepted and were given a small honorarium for their time. During the interview, each person was asked two general questions, “What does it mean to you and your community to dismantle racism through the food system?” and, “What would the world look like without an imbalance of power and privilege?” as well as three theme-specific questions. The interviews were then transcribed, nearly word-for-word, and posted here in both audio and written formats.

We encourage you to absorb the interviews with an open heart. Interviews were a learning process for many: some participants struggled with articulating their responses, and some had not fully developed their thoughts. We hope that some essays affirm your beliefs and some challenge you to analyze your experiences in a new and uncomfortable way. You may even find some pieces objectionable. The interviews are intended to initiate dialogue because without dialogue, we can never join together to dismantle racism. We have included a link to all questions participants were asked as a resource for your own conversations. Use this list to instigate dialogue, inspire art, and incite change in your community. Additionally, we hope to soon add a forum for you to discuss your responses to the interviews online.

Erika Allen – Project Design
Maureen Kelly – Consultation
Erica Hougland – Interviews and Transcription
Allyson Harmon – Transcription
Gillian Knight – Transcription

Special thanks to GFJI and Growing Power, Inc. for providing original content.