North American food scholars, activists and policymakers often consider how to make a community food project more inclusive to “vulnerable populations” to increase participation in local food efforts. Drawing from qualitative research conducted with two community food organizations in Seattle, Washington, I argue that inclusive efforts are not addressing the power asymmetries present in organizations and within communities. Engaging with black geographies literature, I reveal how a black food justice organization grapples with violent histories of slavery and dispossession rooted in a black farming imaginary, and works to re-envision this imaginary to one of power and transformation. The spatial imaginaries and spaces of each food organization acknowledge racial histories differentially, informing their activism. Black geographies possess knowledge and spatial politics that can revitalize community food movements, and I consider how white food activists might reframe their work so that their efforts are not fueling the displacement of residents of color.
She makes an important claim that really speaks to something I've been mulling over, which is the relationship between food justice and food sovereignty. She writes: "Some food scholars have signaled that perhaps a shift in terminology to that of “food sovereignty” would be more appropriate for food movements that address injustices across scale. While the use of food sovereignty connects North American struggles to indigenous struggles for autonomy across the globe, signaling our interconnection in the colonial present, I worry that the loss of this genealogy would displace the critique of institutional racism central to food justice activism and use a broad brushstroke to encompass place-based movements rooted in black geographies. In addition, the loss of the “justice” genealogy that traces food justice activism to its social justice roots in black social movements would be lost, submerging generations of black struggles for equity that are often tied to the land."
Great reading and I'll definitely be assigning it in class!