News Blog

Diversity = Shared Histories through Food

“those who work in the sun, make it possible for those who work in the shade” African saying

This year’s conference plenary speaker, Malik Yakini, Executive Director of the Detroit Black Food Security Network, delivered a passionate speech sharing his reality as an African American man in the sustainable agriculture movement (or more personally, a Black man growing food in Detroit, MI).

Discussing self determination in a changing society, Malik talked about their local food efforts on a seven-acre downtown Detroit farm operating programs ranging from the Food Warriors youth development to leading the local food policy council, but he also shared his personal story of transformation.

His transformation story included some history on the status of African American farmer, or as he says, “Black farmers were historically displaced from their lands by force– which is the root cause of food insecurity in the Black community. As Black people helped build the US. Economy as the labor force, they also shared their knowledge of plants and foods from South Africa. The African immigrants had a great historical impact on our food in America. On the ships they brought sorghum, cowpeas, okra, rice and yams, along with their ancestral knowledge of plants and medicine – their botanical legacy”.

George Washington Carver said, “No society can thrive if they do not include the most impacted and disenfranchised among them”.  For Malik, “this food movement is about sovereignty and the value tied to farming. Food sovereignty means having control of the system – not just access to food. Security, justice and environmental stewardship are all involved in Food Sovereignty - Let’s get free!”

Go deeper into the work of  Malik Yakini and the Detroit Black Food Security Network here


A related SSAWG BLAWG appears here