The senseless death of George Floyd and subsequent unrest caught me by surprise. He wasn’t the first Black person killed by police. This wasn’t the first round of protests. Yet, it was the first time I truly came out of my shell of white privilege to see what was happening. This is the first time I’m ready to step up, move forward, and be the change.
This isn’t a matter of a few isolated incidents. Black America has suffered injustice for 400+ years. Sadly, I and way too many others have kept quiet and focused on our own ‘issues.’ This is not OK.
It is time for us to all realize and embrace the fact that human rights infringements and crimes against humanity belong to everyone. Black members of our community have fought systemic racism and social injustice since before we were even the ‘United States.’ This has continued and still happens today. This has to stop.
Now is the time to truly be united. Most white people have looked the other way, claiming “But, I’m not a racist.” As many have said… it isn’t about being NOT racist; it is about being ANTI racist. It is about being the change.
Overwhelmed? Learn First, Then Take Action
I totally get it. Heck, it took me several days to get my head around what was going on. Then, I took sincere time to listen and learn to the Black community and embrace & amplify their voices. The idea of white fragility, privilege, and subconscious racism was totally new to me. Before spending this time learning, I may have taken offense if someone identified me with any of those terms. Now, I get it.
Here are some of the voices from which I’m learning:
(I’ll continue to share more on my Instagram Stories)
- Rachel Cargle – Public Academic and founder of the ‘Great UnLearn,’ a Patreon-based resource for learning & action
- Layla Saad – author of ‘Me and White Supremacy’
- Rachael Rodgers – founder of HelloSeven and a powerful voice for the Black community
- Candace Reels – founder of the Female Collective
- Ericka Hines – principal and lead consultant at Every Level Leadership; focusing on diversity, inclusion & equity
Here are a handful of informative & challenging articles:
- Affinity Magazine – Why Black People are Tired of Being Called Articulate
- HuffPost – Why America Needs to Listen to Black Women
- The Intercept – Systemic Racism Poses a Far Greater Public Health Threat Than Protests Against Police Violence
- Tolerance Magazine – What Is White Privilege, Really?
- Dame Magazine – White Women Please Don’t Expect Me to White Away Your Tears
- Scary Mommy – Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead
- Color Lines – A great website for expanding your understanding
Once I learned more from folks that have suffered their whole lives from social injustice, my eyes were wide open. In fact, I’ve learned a considerable amount of new information; ashamedly much that I should have learned years ago.
This is where my overwhelm sunk in. There was so much I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to simply throw money at the challenges and mark my ‘be an ally’ checkbox.
What helped me to focus in a singular area and attempt to go deep to the heart of the challenge was learning more about subjects in which I was personally involved.
Going Deeper: My Connection Via Food & Wellness
Did you realize that historical redlining has impacted more than just the financial hardship of minority communities? It has directly reduced access to fresh, healthy foods.
Historically, people of color have lived in, and continue to live in, the most under-resourced communities with the lowest-performing schools, poor access to transportation, inequitable access to affordable, healthy food and the furthest distance from quality jobs.The Food Trust
As someone that has worked in the food industry for decades, it is completely shocking to me that not everyone in our country has affordable access to fresh produce. I’d heard folks say before that people complain that eating healthy is more expensive than fast food. Previously, I scoffed at that type of comment; believing that someone was misinformed. I was ignorant.
At the time, I should have stopped and done the research myself. Instead, I took the misunderstanding and moved along with my life. Yet, I disregarded the fact that a section of our population was consuming unhealthy food on a daily basis not by choice, but by necessity.
No wonder Black Americans have taken a harder hit during the recent Covid-19 epidemic. Dr. Fauci has even said, “the coronavirus outbreak is “shining a bright light” on “unacceptable” health disparities between black people and white people.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “The lack of store access in these communities — sometimes called food deserts — may contribute to poor diet, obesity, and other diet-related illness.”
To be clear, this is not just a matter of people not having access to stores like Whole Foods. They don’t have convenient access to ANY grocery stores. Typically, within a mile of their home, there is only fast food, convenience stores or small corner stores. If those corner stores carry produce, it is extremely expensive. Hence, it being cheaper to eat fast food or items from the c-store.
Remember, folks living in these neighborhoods often don’t have cars or reliable access to public transportation. It’s not like they can drive to another neighborhood to stock-up on healthier options. This only multiples the challenges that these neighborhoods have with racism and socioeconomic inequality.
Be the Change: What I’m Doing About Access to Healthier Foods
I started researching organizations that could help make healthier foods more accessible to under-served communities. I started with large organizations like the National Urban League and just kept following the path to being able to make a difference in my backyard. The non-profits I chose to start being the change with all directly impact these communities by helping them break free of the shackles of redlining.
My goal is to go beyond just providing healthier foods. I want to support organizations that are rebuilding infrastructures and businesses for self-power. They help them to stand-up and heal from within for a more positive future.
Black Lives Matter
“Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.”
National Urban League
“Empowering Communities and Changing Lives. The National Urban League works to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities, and the guarantee of civil rights for the under-served in America.”
“We’re building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. We aim to educate, inspire, advocate, and create change. We spotlight and support environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.”
America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative
“40 million Americans still live without easy access to fresh and healthy food options. America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative aims to improve access to healthy food and expand economic opportunity in underserved areas.” (This is a government initiative, including it here as a reference.)
The Food Trust
“The Food Trust is a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Headquartered in Philadelphia, The Food Trust works with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers, and policymakers in the city and across the country to develop a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.”
Healthy Food Access
“The Healthy Food Access Portal harnesses a vast array of data and information to support the successful planning and implementation of policies, programs, and projects for advocates, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders to improve access to healthy foods in low-income communities and communities of color.”
LA Food Policy Council
“We believe Good Food for All is possible and that all communities deserve access to good food, grown in a way that respects people and the planet. We work to create a local food system free from hunger, rooted in equity and access, supportive of farmers and food workers, and guided by principles of environmental stewardship and regeneration. To accomplish our vision of Good Food for All, we catalyze, coordinate, and connect people across the LA region, including government, business, and community groups working on food.”
Ready to Find Your Path to Be the Change?
- Do the work. Understand what’s happening. Listen to the voices of those impacted. See it from their perspective.
- Find your path. We aren’t all going to do the same thing. But we all have to do SOMETHING. Find out how you can use your unique background and experiences to make a difference now.
- Get to doing. Let’s not wait till another Black life is unjustly taken. Right now is the time to take action and work toward a better future.