Making Spaces Something Like Freedom

Black Feminist Praxis In The Re/Imagining Of A Just Food System

  • Ashanté M. Reese Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Dara Cooper National Black Food and Justice Alliance
Keywords: Agriculture, food systems, food justice, Black feminism

Abstract

Over the past twenty years, scholarly work on food justice movements has increasingly focused on racism in the food system, documenting how the unequal distribution of food, the systematic disenfranchisement of Black farmers, and the ongoing legacies of residential segregation in planning affect the local food system. In some cases, the work specifically highlights contributions of Black growers and activists (White 2018; Sbicca 2018; Alkon and Guthman 2017). This scholarship has done much to demonstrate the extent to which racial justice is integral to many food justice and sovereignty movements. What has been less explored, however, is the extent to which Black women lead these movements. More specifically, we ask what are the political commitments that compel the way they lead movements, engage the earth and growing, and offer care work within their networks. In this essay, we first explore how Black women use Black feminism as a political and personal framework for their food justice efforts, particularly in terms of their leadership, relationship building, and stewardship of the earth. Additionally, we draw from Christina Sharpe’s notion of an ethic of care that emerges when attempting to make spaces of freedom, in which “care” is defined as “shared risk” (2016:131), to offer theoretical and methodological observations of how Black feminist thought and practice help us to re/see and re/imagine more equitable food systems. 

References

Allen, Patricia, and Carolyn Sachs. 2012. “Women and Food Chains: The Gendered Politics of Food.”
In Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World, edited by Psyche Williams-Forson and Carole Counihan, 23–40. New York: Routledge.

Agyeman, Julian, and Alison Hope Alkon, eds. 2011. Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Alkon, Alison, and Julie Guthman, eds. 2017. The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Carter, Derrais. 2018. “Black Study.” In The Fire Now: Anti-Racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence, 38-43. London: ZED.

Daniel, Pete. 2013. Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Davy, Dãnia C., Savonala Horne, Tracy Lloyd McCurty, and Edward “Jerry” Pennick. 2017. “Resistance.” In Land Justice: Re-Imagining Land, Food, and the Commons in the United States, edited by Justine M. Williams and Eric Holt-Giménez, 40-60. Oakland: Food First Books. 

Dickinson, Maggie. 2019. Feeding the Crisis: Care and Abandonment in America's Food Safety Net. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Geronimus, Arline T. 1992. "The Weathering Hypothesis and the Health of African-American Women and Infants: Evidence and Speculations." Ethnicity & Disease 2(3): 207-221.

Geronimus, Arline T., Margaret Hicken, Danya Keene, and John Bound. 2006. “‘Weathering’ and Age Patterns of Allostatic Load Scores among Blacks and Whites in the United States." American Journal of Public Health 96(5): 826-833.

Grim, Valerie. 1995. "The Politics of Inclusion: Black Farmers and the Quest for Agribusiness Participation, 1945-1990s." Agricultural History 69(2): 257-271.

Hartman, Saidiya. 2008. Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York: Macmillan.

Hobart, Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani and Tamara Kneese. 2020. "Radical Care: Survival Strategies for Uncertain Times." Social Text 38(1): 1-16.

Holt-Giménez, Eric. 2011. "Food Security, Food Justice, or Food Sovereignty." In Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability, edited by Julian Agyeman and Alison Alkon, 309-330. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Hoffman, Kelly M., Sophie Trawalter, Jordan R. Axt, and M. Norman Oliver. 2016. "Racial Bias in Pain Assessment and Treatment Recommendations, and False Beliefs about Biological Differences between Blacks and Whites." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(16): 4296-4301.

Kelley, Robin D., 2002. Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. Boston: Beacon Press.

Kwate, Naa Oyo A. 2008. "Fried Chicken and Fresh Apples: Racial Segregation as a Fundamental Cause of Fast Food Density in Black Neighborhoods." Health & Place 14(1): 32-44.

Mandel, Hadas, and Moshe Semyonov. 2016. "Going Back in Time? Gender Differences in Trends and Sources of the Racial Pay Gap, 1970 to 2010." American Sociological Review 81(5): 1039-1068.

McCutcheon, Priscilla. 2019.  "Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Farms and Black Agrarian Geographies." Antipode 51(1): 207-224.

Nash, Jennifer C. 2018. Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality. Durham: Duke University Press

Patel, Raj. 2012. Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. New York: Melville House Publishing.

Reese, Ashanté M. 2019. Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. Chapel Hill: UNC Press.

Reynolds, Kristin, and Nevin Cohen. 2016.  Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in New York City. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Sharpe, Christina. 2016. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press.

Sharpe, Christina. 2009. Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press.

White, Monica M. 2018. Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement. Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

White, Monica M. 2011. "Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance in Detroit." Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts 5(1): 13-28.

Williams-Forson, Psyche A. 2006.  Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Published
2021-08-05
How to Cite
Reese, A., & Cooper, D. (2021). Making Spaces Something Like Freedom. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(4), 450-459. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/2024