Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

12:00 pm 6 July Teleconference: Black Organizing for Power and Dignity

July 6, 2012 Teleconference: Black Organizing for Power and Dignity:
Visions of Black Food Sovereignty and Black Food and Health Justice

 for People of Black African descent
sponsored by Local to Global Advocates for Justice (LGAJ)

Date: Friday, July 6, 2012
Speaker:  Monifa Bandele,
Food Justice Campaign Director, Director for Food Justice and Economic Security for, Monifa Bandele has over a decade of experience in policy analysis, communications, advocacy, organizing, development, and project management working with groups like the Brennan Center for Justice, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. 

Started in May 2006, is an on-the-ground and online organization with more than 1 million members, more than 550 contributing bloggers, and more than a hundred aligned national organizations, working together to increase family economic security, to end discrimination against women and mothers, and to help ensure all children can thrive. For three years in a row, has named’s website one of the “Top 100 Websites For Women.”

Time: 12:00 pm to 1:30pm ET; 11:00 am to 12:30 CT; 10:00 am to 11:30am MT; 9:00am to 10:30am PT

All participants will be required to identify themselves on the call. This is teleconference for black people who want to work on strategizing to achieve concrete goals of black food sovereignty, black food and health justice and  environmental and social justice.

Co-Facilitators: Charity Hicks, Coordinator, Detroit Food Justice Taskforce; Maria Whittaker, President, LGAJ; Dara Cooper, Senior Project Manager, Fresh Moves

Free Conference dial-in number: (559) 726-1200
Participant access code: 405684

Calling Instructions: Mute *6
Unmute *6
Upcoming Teleconferences:
  · Friday, July 20, 2012 11:00 am EST, AyeNay Abye, Field Director, Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE), Washington, D.C
· September 2012, Makani Themba Nixon, The Praxis Project, Washington, D.C., exact date and time to be announced.
· 6 December 2012, Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

1. First 25 minutes: Introductions and getting people on the line beginning in Africa, moving to the West Coast of the USA and then East across the USA by alphabetical order of last name. Please be prepared to share your:
· Full name, geographic location, organization affiliation if any, a brief description of your work and
· The problem(s) that your work currently seeks to address.
2. 5 minutes: Libation and moment of spiritual inspiration.
3. 15 minutes: Presentation by speaker.
3. 40 minutes: discussion focusing on:
· Sharing successful policy initiatives and experiences for resolving the problems we have identified; and
· Identifying our goals and
· Suggesting clear next steps on how we can build our collective power.
4. Closing five minutes:
· One word summation of experience from all
· Libation and moment of spiritual inspiration.

Short Description:
This teleconference is a strategy session for people of African descent, to highlight and explore organizing led by and for Black folks to achieve concrete goals of Black food and health justice and Black food sovereignty.
The three main outcomes of the session are to: 1) Identify the system of problems related to food and agriculture at various levels affecting our communities; 2) Brainstorm and share successful policy initiatives for resolution and; 3) Conclude with clear next steps on how we can build our collective power and achieve our goals. The session is designed as a dialogue, an open space focused on participant knowledge, sharing and engagement.

Full Description:
I. The State of Black Food and Health Justice and Black Food Sovereignty
"The key to understanding and eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities is to acknowledge that they are not the result of individual behaviors. Instead, poorer health outcomes and ethnic and racial disparities in health are the result of social determinants of health care status. Therefore, the elimination of health care disparities requires solutions based on social justice.

Social justice is the fair distribution of society's benefits, responsibilities and their consequences. It focuses on the relative position of one social group in relationship to other social groups in society, as well as on the root causes of disparities and what can be done to eliminate them. Thus, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities may necessitate altering social policies, social systems and social institutions in order to remove unequal treatment and outcomes in the United States' health care system." (
Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk. (Hunger Stats, United Nations World Food Programme, Hunger kills more people than AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Combined every year. (Id.) Poverty and hunger are closely linked with poverty being the greatest indicator of hunger. (Resources/fact sheets/ American poverty.pdf) Education is the greatest indicator of poverty. (Id.)
One in four or 25% of African Americans live below the poverty level, compared to about 1 in 8 or 12.5 % of all Americans. (Id.) Similarly, one in four or 25 % of African American households is hungry, compared to about 1 in seven or 14% of all American households. Black children suffer hunger at higher rates than do adults. Almost 35% or a little more than one third of all African American children are hungry. (Id.)
As well, poverty is the main indicator of health and quality of health care. (National Health Care Disparities Report (2005), Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, US Department of Health and Human Services pp. 131-132.) Consequently, black Americans who experience poverty at greater rates than the overall US population suffer many diseases at greater rates that the overall US population and are less likely to receive adequate health care. (Id.)
Black Americans suffer high blood pressure, a major risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure, at a rate of 40% greater than that suffered by white Americans. (“A Strategic Framework for Improving Racial/Ethnic Minority Health and Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities,” US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD: Office of Minority Health, January 2008.) Black Americans are twice as likely to die from strokes as white Americans. (Id.) Black Americans are also 2.1 times as likely as whites to suffer from diabetes and much more likely than whites to experience complications from diabetes, such as amputation of lower extremities. (Id.)
Black Americans are more likely to die from cancer than any other racial and ethnic group in the US. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans, 2007-8) Black American men are 50% more likely to have prostate cancer and are more likely than any other racial group to suffer colorectal cancer. (The Commonwealth Fund, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare: A Chartbook,” 2008.)
15% of Black Americans suffer from adult onset diabetes compared to 8% of the white population. (Id.) Because of reduced access to health care, treatment for these diseases is significantly lower among black than white people. (Id.)
African American females are disproportionately affected by hypertension (44.4%), followed by 41.4% of African American males, 31.5% of white males and 28.1% white females (National Center for Health Statistics (2011). National Center for Health Statistics (2011). Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. Retrieved from on March 4, 2012.Even when treated, hypertension leads to death more frequently in black people than white people. In 2005 the rate of death (per 100,000 people) from hypertension was 51.0 in black men, 40.9 in black women, and 15.1 in both white women and white men (Flack et al., 2010).Flack, J.M., Sica, D.A., Bakris, G., Brown, A.L., Ferdinand, K.C., Grimm, R.H.,… Jamerson, K.A. (2010). International Society on Hypertension in Blacks. Management of high blood pressure in Blacks: an update of the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks consensus statement. Hypertension, 56(5), 780-800.
Globally, black people experience poverty and hunger at higher rates that do whites as well. In 2000, 50% of the world’s poor were Africans. (The Challenge for Africa, Wangari Maathai, p. 10) 28% of the world’s hungry or 238 million people live in Sub Saharan Africa. (Poverty Facts and Statistics, The only larger portion of the world’s hungry live in South Asia. (Id.)
More than 80% of diabetes deaths in the world occur in low and middle income countries which includes all of Sub-Saharan Africa. ( Around 27-28% of all children in poor countries are underweight or stunted of which Sub Saharan African and South Asia account for the bulk of the deficit. (Poverty Facts and Stats, Id.) If current trends continue, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for Africa will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. (Maathai at 6.)
In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in 6 children dies before his fifth birthday comprising half of the world’s child deaths largely due to conditions largely associated with hunger. (Maathai at 6.)
Racial disparities in access to land for farming is well documented as well. European Colonial governments forcibly removed and displaced African people from arable land to make way for colonial settlers, exactly as was done to native peoples in North America, and this forced removal and displacement of Africans has not been rectified as of today. (Id.) Europeans or their descendants own almost all the land in the Americas, almost all the good land in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and most of the best land in many African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya.
While in 1920, over 14% of U.S, farmers were African American, as of 2007, less than 2% of U.S. farmers were Afro-descendants. (National Black Farmers and Urban Gardner’s Conference) In Kenya, 10 percent of the population, both black and white farmers, owns 73 percent of all arable land. In South Africa, 16 percent of the population, made up of whites, owns 87 percent of all arable land. In Zimbabwe, 4,500 white farmers - or a mere .03 percent of a population of 13 million Africans - own 73 percent of all arable land. In Namibia, another country in South West Africa, whites who make up about 6 % of the population own about 50% of arable land.(Maathai at 227.)

II. Black Food and Health Justice and Black Food Sovereignty
Food Justice is:
communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers and animals. People practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities and a healthy environment. (Just
Health Justice:
recognizes that there are numerous socio-economic factors (social determinants of health) that affect an individual’s and a community’s health status. The idea of social determinants of health is based on substantial research that the social and physical environment greatly influences a person’s health. Health justice addresses the fact that in order to attain physical and mental health at the individual and community level, we must address issues of equity, access, and justice as they relate to particular social, physical, political and economic environments. Health care services are one important element in attaining health, but health services alone cannot eliminate inequities such as poverty, racism, and gender-based violence. Without attention to and efforts aimed at the complex realities of individuals’ lives, we cannot hope to achieve good health and wellbeing for all.
Food Sovereignty is:
the people’s truly democratic, just and sustainable, supreme control over their food and agriculture. It is a doctrine that the International Small Farmers and Peasant’s Movement, la Via Campesina, introduced to the world in 1993 although indigenous communities used the phrase before 1993. Food Sovereignty has seven principles:
1. Food: A Basic Human Right. The basic human right to healthy nutritious, culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.
2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people—especially women—ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender , religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.
3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agrochemicals.
4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
5. Ending Corporate Control over our Food and Agriculture. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for Trans National Corporations is therefore needed.
6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness, The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism against smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
7. Democratic Control. Smallholder farmers and consumers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular must be granted direct and active decision making on food and rural issues. (Family Farm Defenders Via Campesina’s Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty.)
II. Why Food Sovereignty rather than Food Security?
(This discussion is taken from the Alliance for African Food Sovereignty announcement of its formation.)
In 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an international organization, defined their objective of achieving food security as:
a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
The US government uses a similar statement. While this objective sounds good, it has been misused to justify policies that only prioritize yield and the delivery of food to consumers by any means. Food security, has become divorced from consideration of how that food is produced and by whom, i.e., ‘food justice’ and ‘food sovereignty.’ “Food security” is misused to encourage the industrialization and corporatization of agriculture, food aid, the use of genetically modified seeds, the shifting of food production from diverse crops for local markets to monocultures for export and the liberalization markets where small producers are put out of business by subsidized imports.
For example, “Food Security: is the stated objective of the most recent Green Revolution in Africa being aggressively promoted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA promotes expensive , subsidized fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds, which are not economically and environmentally sustainable. AGRA puts the private sector in charge of seed supply and replaces local and public seed systems.
Policies based on “Food Security” have failed to protect consumers around the world from soaring food prices. Under Food Security practices prescribed by the US and other governments, businesses and the FAO, world hunger is actually growing. Under the Food Security doctrine, food has become a commodity for maximizing profits for a few rather than a source of nutrition for the people as mandated by Food Sovereignty. Never before was the inequity of the global food system more starkly evident than during the Food Crisis of 2007-2008. As people around the world starved, agribusiness and commodity traders reported record profits.
It is clear that the doctrine of food security on its own has failed to meet the needs of the people for a source of nutrition and is destroying our environment. Real food security must be based on food sovereignty, the people’s truly democratic, just and sustainable, supreme control over their food and agriculture.
This model of food sovereignty, not food security, is what is needed, one that works with farmers and consumers, communities, soils and biodiversity, on which actual food production depends. Instead of focusing only narrowly on food production like the doctrine of Food Security, Food Sovereignty serves all elements—farmers, communities, ecosystems, climate, markets and consumers—involved in food and agriculture. It is a holistic approach, mutually enhancing at every level, bringing coherence, justice and environmental and economic sustainability to food and agriculture. (Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa)
III. “Organizing for Justice”
At the US Community Food Security Coalition Policy Conference this past May 2011 held in Portland Oregon, the opening plenary: Leading the Movement for Food Justice: Analysis, Organizing and Power for Policy Change, moderated by Makani Themba Nixon of the Praxis Project, was the only session to receive a standing ovation during the four day conference. In that plenary, presenters: Jaron Browne, POWER San Francisco; Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United; Rodrigo Rodriguez, South West Organizing Project, and Kolu Zigbi, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, discussed and gave strong examples of powerful organizing work by poor and people of color to achieve policy goals. Policy is broadly defined as any actions, agreements and laws that directly improve people’s lives in concrete ways.
In October 2011 at the 2nd Annual National Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference hosted by B.U.G.S, Black Urban Gardeners, in the Bronx, New York, a small coalition of black food and agriculture activists , Anan Lololi of the AfriCan Food Basket in Toronto, Canada, Ayenay Abye of Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) in Washington D.C., USA and Maria Whittaker of Global Advocates for Justice (GAJ) in Mission, Kansas, USA collaborated to present a workshop on Black Organizing for Power and Dignity: Visions of Black Food and Health Justice and Black Food Sovereignty in order to provide an open space to build strategy across and within black communities for food and health justice and food sovereignty.
Given the deep inequities that exist in American society and the world, it is important to continue this conversation, go deeper and broader, so we can build strategy across and within black communities for food and health justice and food sovereignty.

This strategy session is designed to continue the “organizing for justice” spirit of the US Food Security Coalition plenary and National Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners workshop and provide a space for we black folk to explore “organizing” for Black food and health justice and Black food sovereignty to address the disparities that exist in the US and around the globe for people of African descent and improve the lives of the poorest and most disenfranchised of our people in material and concrete ways.
In this teleconference, the facilitators, will build a dialog between participants focused on 1) Identifying the system of problems related to food at various levels affecting our communities; 2) Brainstorming and sharing successful policy initiatives and 3) Concluding with clear next steps on how we can build our collective organizing power.

More Information on Speakers and Facilitators:
Charity Hicks is currently the Coordinator of the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce, a collaborative of 10 community based groups in Detroit formed in 2009 to work in the food system and urban agricultural movement to promote a justice centered food system.

Her background includes being a Clinical Research Associate- Human Subjects with the Detroit Oral Health Disparities Research Center of the University of Michigan, an 8 year longitudinal health disparity study following over 1,200 African American families in Detroit which started in 2002 and was brought to closure in 2008. As a Clinical Research Associate she has facilitated and trained field listners, interviewers, and data collectors, conducted numerous focus groups, and led data collection operations, and community engagement on health disparities research all around Detroit.

She has over 10 years in research, public policy, and community activism in Detroit. She holds an undergraduate degree in Africana Studies, Psychology and Social Science from Eastern Michigan University. Her graduate work is in Medical Anthropology. She has been a founding member of several organizations in Detroit including the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, an herbalist training group and African Women’s Society. She worked as the Health, Healing and Environmental Justice point person for the United States Social Forum held in Detroit, June 2010, and coordinated the first aid/health response at the weeklong event. She is also the coordinator of the D-Town Annual Harvest Festival every fall from 2007 thru 2011. She has traveled in a delegation representing Detroit to the World Social Forum Dakar 2011, and other countries in Africa. She has worked as a consultant with nonprofits and small capital entrepreneurs in market studies, communications, research, and strategic planning.
She was an integral person on the team which wrote the City of Detroit Food Security Policy (2008) and the articles for the establishment of the Detroit Food Policy Council (2009). Charity is currently serving with several boards and committee groups in Detroit which include: Detroit Public Schools Health Council, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Grocery Store Coalition Steering Committee, Detroit Food Policy Council, Peoples Water Board Detroit, and Future’s Taskforce of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, and The Green Taskforce Water Sub-committee.

She is a Master Gardener through MSU Wayne County Extension (2002) and a member of the Sierra Club and several other environmental/ecological groups. She also has been trained in the New Economy Initiative via The Land Policy Institute of MSU on Place Making and regional economic development. She also writes for the Michigan Citizen Newspaper Fresh Ideas section in the serial column “Food Is Life” since May 2010. She is an alumna of the Center for Whole Communities in Vermont and The Rockwood inaugural group of Upper Midwest Leadership. Due to her significant skills and activism she represents several groups in the People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) in Detroit and serves the grassroots community on the Detroit WORKS Mayors Advisory Taskforce since December 2010.
Dara Cooper, Chicago, Activist, Senior Project Manager, Fresh Moves
Dara Cooper is an activist, organizer and whole food lover who has been active in human rights struggles for about half of her life. Dara has worked for the past decade on economic development, HIV/AIDS resource access in South Africa and Ethiopia, the exoneration of U.S. political prisoners and exiles, and mentoring young people working on healthy food access at the Congressional Hunger Center. She has been fortunate to travel the country (and world) meeting with incredible organizations working on innovative projects to alleviate hunger, destructive foods, and/or struggling to create a more just food system and world.
Dara is an advisory board member for the Healthy Food Hub (a reverse CSA supporting Black farmers in Pembroke and local food access), Rising in Solidarity with Ayiti (Haiti solidarity) and a member of Ella’s Daughters (an organization of activists inspired by the legacy of Ella Baker). As the Senior Project Manager for Fresh Moves, she is very excited to be apart of an innovative project and important movement addressing equity and food access.
Maria Whittaker is President of the organization she founded, Local to Global Advocates for Justice, Ms. Whittaker is an attorney, horticulturalist, student of agro ecology or ecological farming, and advocate for food sovereignty: the people’s just and sustainable, truly democratic, supreme control over their food and agriculture.
She was raised in a ghetto in Columbus, Ohio in the 1960’s and 70’s and dedicated her life at an early age to working to change the injustice she saw around her, especially the racial injustice. She believes in thinking and acting locally to globally and is working to facilitate black grassroots organizing to advance the cause of food and health justice and food sovereignty.
Humphrey Omukuti is the Constituency Representative for Stahere District, Mathere, Nariobi, Kenya. Born in the violent, harsh slums of Nairobi, Mathare, he lost his parents at the age of 7yrs. At one point he was a drug pusher ( ghetto leader); he changed this life system into reforming young people in the slum of Nairobi Mathare.
He did his first training of life coaching with Michezo Africa, then peer educator with Hope World Wide Community projects. He was elected as a youth representative in 2007 year in Starehe Constituency. He did urban farming training with the Mazingira Institute of Nairobi.
Now, he leads and organizes community environmental and livlihoods projects including cleaning the Nairobi river. He also does development projects and politics, hiv-aids, human rights, food security advocacy and entrepreneurship. He has transformed many young lives through football, urban agriculture, art and music and helping youth go to school and college.
He is proud of his self-transformation from a dangerous slum drug pusher into urban farmer, human rights activist, peer educator for hiv-aids, football coach, musician, and free-lance journalist. He has used these activities to keep young people in Mathare from drugs, crime and prostitution.

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