Beyond Food Deserts

Food mapping.jpgWhen we share what Food for Black Thought is about, we immediately face assumptions about what we do, support, or believe. Much of this has to do with how Black populations are framed in food work, public health, and a range of activism and scholarship.

Our approach challenges these assumptions with a “critical” lens. Through this lens, we consider power, privilege, and oppression – and their historical precedents of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and empire. (Stay tuned for a list of resources we read and follow). In classes and consults, we define power a bit differently from some: we understand power as something that is used. From this perspective, Black folks and other historically marginalized people can use power. They do, and they have.*

This critical lens means we’re deeply concerned about how certain language (like food deserts and “obesity epidemic”), trends (like African superfoods), and food projects can perpetuate injustice.

Last but not least, we’re passionate about theory in action. As an African-American and Afro-Latinx team, critical theory appeals to us because it affirms our very existence as people who experience multiple forms of oppression – when other scholarly work and the world in general does not. We understand the critical theory named about as promoting healing, liberation, connection, and inspiration. We’re most excited about theory-in-action that makes way for what Bell et al. (2011) call emerging or transforming stories, stories that “catalyze contemporary action against racism” and spark “imagination of new possibilities for inclusive human community” (p. 75).**

We put theory into action through 5 guiding principles. These principles have guided us from 2012 to the present. One of these is “Beyond Food Deserts.” Please read. Share. Connect.

Food for Black Thought: 5 guiding principles 

We’re always growing! Do you have readings, work, or activism for us to consider?


*They may not have the privilege to use power in particular ways with ease. When they gather, act, teach, build, or speak out, their lives and livelihood will be at risk in ways that it’s not for people with white skin privilege. Considering intersections – Black and woman, queer, and/or low-resourced, among other identities – the ability tothe risk is greater. 

**This is not a colorblind vision that glosses over issue of race/racism or other isms. It’s an inclusive community that radically faces these, so people can truly, deeply be in relationship. Imagine.