It is hard to talk about race in this country. Some days it’s hard being Black in this country. When I add the “green” to being Black, my day can get very rough. Last Saturday I had a pretty rough evening when I heard the news of Zimmerman’s acquittal.
I am also “green.” I choose that label to identify my belief in and support for sustainable food practices. I became a part of the food movement in part because I learned that there was more to food than just eating it. Right now, I am deeply disappointed in that movement.
People across the country came together to march and voice frustration with the verdict from the Zimmerman trail. We are now forced to talk about race in the context of public policy. However, I want to be clear that we are not having a national conversation under the nonspecific moniker of “communities of color.” We are specifically talking about being Black in America.
The food movement has been silent on the issue of justice in the case of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman trial. I know that many foodies were among the thousands that marched. I marched, too. I wondered what the food movement could offer the social movement against racism and injustice.
I got involved in the food movement because of my son’s food allergies. I felt that my son, a Black boy, deserved the best food available. I did everything in my power to get the best food I could find for my son. My goal was to protect my son’s potential. It is my job to protect his potential. What I found was a movement that ignored the concerns of people of color.
Yes, I am tired. I am tired of being in a food movement that can get all up in arms about the most obscure aspects of public policy but not say a peep when a national social-justice issue emerges on race. Maybe the food movement is silent because we are afraid that the elitism of the food movement will be exposed.
The food movement is forever telling people to eat healthy and supporting schemes that will regulate what poor White people and people of color will eat because they will waste their SNAP (the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits on potato chips and pop. The movement’s holier-than-thou attitude toward peoples’ plates is truly mind-boggling. If we turned the magic magnifying glass on our own plates, I bet we would find more junk on the plates of foodies than on the plates of those who receive SNAP benefits.
Maybe the food movement is silent because it is afraid that the rest of the world will learn that the food movement refuses to address issues of race and class. In fact, issues of race and class are regulated to places far behind food production, conservation practices and farmers markets. People of color are second-class citizens in the food movement. Issues of equity, fairness and inclusivity are horse-traded against more important issues.
The miscarriage of justice in the Zimmerman trial presents a unique opportunity for the food movement to link issues that impact the Black community: gun violence, unjust public policy and food justice access. This connection makes it clear what should be done.
The food movement should organize and support a national boycott of Florida-grown products to support the abolition of Stand Your Ground laws in Florida. This is the law that allows the life of Black or Brown children to be viewed as worthless. A Black or Brown life is not worthy of legal protection. The food justice movement must get on the side of this issue that protects the bodies of Black children.
The “No Justice, No Juice” boycott will steer people to food produced by local farmers on urban and rural farms and take dollars out of the Florida economy. The call for a boycott of Florida grown can serve as a reminder that our food system is based on injustice, and it will never right itself unless we force the corporations that are holding our food system hostage to change their practices and get on the right side of justice.
We can convince them by taking our money to those that are supporting life-affirming policies. The Florida citrus industry is a $9 billion industry, employing nearly 76,000 Floridians.
That’s $9 billion that finance a state that does not support justice. We ought to withdraw our enthusiasm immediately. If Stevie Wonder can do it, so can we.
According to the Florida Citrus website, “Florida is second only to Brazil in global orange juice production, and the state remains the world’s leading producer of grapefruit. Florida produces more than 70 percent of the United States’ supply of citrus, with major overseas export markets including Canada, Japan, France and the UK.
In most seasons, more than 90 percent of America’s orange juice is made from Florida-grown oranges. Nearly 87 percent of Florida citrus is processed into orange and grapefruit juices.”
It’s time for the food movement to get political. We need to go beyond voting with out folks; we must vote with our votes. We must repeal Stand Your Ground laws and vote against politicians that support Stand Your Ground laws.
In the meantime, do not shop with Florida. While grocery shopping, ask the following questions: “Is it fair? Is it just? Is it healthy? Is it grown in Florida?” Check your label to learn exactly where your food comes from. Tell the store manager that you will not support injustice, and ask him or her to not sell products that support the murder of Black children.
I stood with my gay, lesbian and transgendered brothers and sister in support of the Marriage Act. I stood with my Black and Brown brothers and sister against Voter ID. It is now time for all of us to stand together to boycott Florida until the Stand Your Ground law is repealed.
Remember, “No Justice, No Juice!” Sign the petition at www.thepetitionsite.com.
LaDonna Redmond is a food justice activist who has learned to have a deep concern for the planet through being the mother of two children. She leads the Campaign for Food Justice Now at www.cfjn.org. She welcomes reader responses to [email protected].