In all of our work, CDI is committed to addressing the root causes of oppression in our social, economic and political systems. We understand that a significant root cause of oppression in our country, and around the globe, is that of systemic racial oppression that permeates all systems. We also understand that racism is a deliberative construct that was intentionally built. We believe, what has been deliberately constructed, can be deliberately de-constructed through a shared understanding of its history, the role we all play in it, and how by working together we can dismantle it.
A generous grant from the John Merck Fund allowed CDI to co-sponsor three important events in Maine. On February, 28th at the Hannaford Lecture Hall, on the campus of the University of Southern Maine, as part of their national book tour, Soul Fire Farm presented Farming While Black – Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty, and engaged over 125 attendees.
Soul Fire Farm’s Amani Olugbala was the featured speaker. Amani has been an advocate for food justice who for over 15 years has combined youth education and community outreach. Her work combines artistic expression, project-based learning and outdoor education tools to facilitate social justice based workshops and discussions with individuals, groups, and organizations. A master storyteller, she engaged the audience and pushed the community to challenge presumed differences and urged everyone to work together in uncovering interlocked paths towards self-determination and community liberation.
This important event was made possible with the help of community partners including, For Us, By Us Fund, Food Studies Program at the University of Southern Maine, Maine Initiatives, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Cultivating Community, and the Gloria S. Duclos Convocation at the University of Southern Maine, CDI and it partners helped to bring important programming to Maine to foster a community understanding, dialogue, and shared commitment to action to undo racism in our food system.
On March 1st, Soul Fire Farm conducted the second event in the series, a workshop focused on Undoing Racism in the Food System. In this heart centered, action oriented workshop participants engaged each other to develop a common understanding of “food justice” and the specific injustices that afford resources and power to certain groups in the food system while denying others. Led by Amani and Ashleigh Eubanks, participants were challenged to take a deep look at their own privilege and how that privilege can be used to take deliberate action to promote food justice in their community. Participants developed specific strategies that they can employ to address inequity, developed an understanding of their own contribution to that inequity, and left the workshop with a clear sense of what they can do as individuals to advance food justice.
The following day, in Lewiston, Maine, the third workshop held for people of color only, offered a safe space for participants to understand the systemic racism within the food system. Many were New Americans farmers who also endured racism while in the United States. This provided a comfortable space for them to be in and share their thoughts. The session also supported their privacy in discussing sensitive topics and conversations. Many of the New Americans farmers have never been in school, so this was a history lesson for them, they learned about slavery in America and the world. This workshop definitely expanded their education in history, systemic racism within the food system, and the tools needed for dismantling it.
To learn more about Soul Fire Farm, and how you can bring this important discussion to your community check out these links
To interact on social media: @soulfirefarm @farmingwhileblack