Frederick Douglass On How Slave Owners Used Food As A Weapon Of Control

Frederick Douglass On How Slave Owners Used Food As A Weapon Of Control

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February 10, 201711:42 AM ET
NINA MARTYRIS

American writer, abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s. Douglass was acutely conscious of being a literary witness to the inhumane institution of slavery he had escaped as a young man. He made sure to document his life in not one but three autobiographies.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
President Trump recently described Frederick Douglass as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.” The president’s muddled tense – it came out sounding as if the 19th-century abolitionist were alive with a galloping Twitter following – provoked some mirth on social media. But the spotlight on one of America’s great moral heroes is a welcome one.

Douglass was born on a plantation in Eastern Maryland in 1817 or 1818 – he did not know his birthday, much less have a long-form birth certificate – to a black mother (from whom he was separated as a boy) and a white father (whom he never knew and who was likely the “master” of the house). He was parceled out to serve different members of the family. His childhood was marked by hunger and cold, and his teen years passed in one long stretch of hard labor, coma-like fatigue, routine floggings, hunger, and other commonplace tortures from the slavery handbook.

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At 20, he ran away to New York and started his new life as an anti-slavery orator and activist. Acutely conscious of being a literary witness to the inhumane institution he had escaped, he made sure to document his life in not one but three autobiographies. His memoirs bring alive the immoral mechanics of slavery and its weapons of control. Chief among them: food.

Hunger was the young Fred’s faithful boyhood companion. “I have often been so pinched with hunger, that I have fought with the dog – ‘Old Nep’ – for the smallest crumbs that fell from the kitchen table, and have been glad when I won a single crumb in the combat,” he wrote in My Bondage and My Freedom. “Many times have I followed, with eager step, the waiting-girl when she went out to shake the table cloth, to get the crumbs and small bones flung out for the cats.”

Enlarge this image
As a young enslaved boy in Baltimore, Frederick Douglass bartered pieces of bread for lessons in literacy. His teachers were white neighborhood kids, who could read and write but had no food. At 20, he ran away to New York and started his new life as an anti-slavery orator and activist.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
“Never mind, honey—better day comin,’ ” the elders would say to solace the orphaned boy. It was not just the family pets the child had to compete with. One of the most debasing scenes in Douglass’ first memoir, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, describes the way he ate:

“Our food was coarse corn meal boiled. This was called mush. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oyster-shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest got most; he that was strongest secured the best place; and few left the trough satisfied.”
Douglass makes it a point to nail the boastful lie put out by slaveholders – one that persists to this day – that “their slaves enjoy more of the physical comforts of life than the peasantry of any country in the world.”

In truth, rations consisted of a monthly allowance of a bushel of third-rate corn, pickled pork (which was “often tainted”) and “poorest quality herrings” – barely enough to sustain grown men and women through their backbreaking labors in the field. Not all the enslaved, however, were so ill-fed. Waiting at the “glittering table of the great house” – a table loaded with the choicest meats, the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, platters of fruit, asparagus, celery and cauliflower, cheese, butter, cream and the finest wines and brandies from France – was a group of black servants chosen for their loyalty and comely looks. These glossy servants constituted “a sort of black aristocracy,” wrote Douglass. By elevating them, the slave owner was playing the old divide-and-rule trick, and it worked. The difference, Douglass wrote, “between these favored few, and the sorrow and hunger-smitten multitudes of the quarter and the field, was immense.”

The “hunger-smitten multitudes” did what they could to supplement their scanty diets. “They did this by hunting, fishing, growing their own vegetables – or stealing,” says Frederick Douglass Opie, professor of history and foodways at Babson College, who, of course, is named after the activist. “In their moral universe, they felt, ‘You stole me, you mistreated me, therefore to steal from you is quite normal.’ ” If caught, say, eating an orange from the owner’s abundant fruit garden, the punishment was flogging. When even this proved futile, a tar fence was erected around the forbidden fruit. Anyone whose body bore the merest trace of tar was brutally whipped by the chief gardener.

But if deprivation was one form of control, a far more insidious and malicious one was the annual Christmas holidays, where gluttony and binge drinking was almost mandatory. During those six days, the enslaved could do what they chose, and while a few spent time with distant family or hunting or working on their homes, most were happy to engage in playing sports, “fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey; and this latter mode of spending the time was by far the most agreeable to the feelings of our masters. … It was deemed a disgrace not to get drunk at Christmas.” To encourage whiskey benders, the “masters” took bets to see who could drink the most whiskey, thus “getting whole multitudes to drink to excess.”

Enlarge this image
Frederick Douglass, circa 1879.
George Warren/National Archives
The nefarious aim of these revels was to equate dissipation with liberty. At the end of the holidays, sickened by the excessive alcohol, the hungover men felt “that we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum.” And so, Douglass wrote, “we staggered up from the filth of our wallowing, took a long breath, and marched to the field – feeling, upon the whole, rather glad to go, from what our master had deceived us into a belief was freedom, back to the arms of slavery.”

Douglass sounds even angrier at these obligatory orgies – he calls them “part and parcel of the gross fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery” – than at other, more direct forms of cruelty.

“It was a form of bread and circus,” says Opie. “Slaves were also given intoxicated drinks, so they would have little time to think of escaping. If you didn’t take it, you were considered ungrateful. It was a form of social control.”

When he was about 8 years old, Douglass was sent to Baltimore, which proved to be a turning point. The mistress of the house gave him the most precious gift in his life – she taught him the alphabet. But when her husband forbade her to continue – teaching slaves to read and write was a crime – she immediately stopped his lessons.

It was too late. The little boy had been given a peek into the transformative world of words and was desperate to learn. He did so by bartering pieces of bread – he had free access to it; in Baltimore, the urban codes of slavery were less harsh than in rural Maryland – for lessons in literacy. His teachers were white neighborhood kids, who could read and write but had no food. “This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge,” Douglass wrote in one of the most moving lines in Narrative.

“This also shows the ingenuity of enslaved people,” says Opie, “and how they tricked and leveraged whatever little they had to get ahead.”

Today, when one thinks of Frederick Douglass, the image that springs to mind is of a distinguished, gray-haired man in a double-breasted suit. It is difficult to imagine him as a half-starved boy garbed in nothing but a coarse, knee-length shirt, sleeping on the floor in a corn sack he had stolen. As he wrote in Narrative, “My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes.”

It is a heartbreaking image – redeemed by one little word, “pen.” A pen that he wielded with passion, clarity and irony to gash the life out of slavery.

Inequality & Structural Racism in the Food System

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Addressing racism must be at the core of what we do as an anti-hunger community, and we cannot end the cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease without changing the fundamental systems and policies which perpetuate racial and other forms of inequality.

We’ve been watching the news, horrified, for the last two weeks. As police violence runs through every state, it’s clear that this is what racism looks like in America.

The reality is that racism is also fundamental to why many of our Black neighbors don’t have enough to eat. With decades of discriminatory policy that have led to poorly-funded schools, higher unemployment, lower homeownership, and worse access to food, it’s no surprise that double the number of Black households face hunger as compared to white households. The staggering economic effects of COVID-19 are set to make that even worse.

Our mission to end hunger must include taking action on racism. So, non-Black allies, we invite you to join us in recommitting to fighting racial discrimination and violence in all its forms.

Five quick actions to take right now as an ally for Black lives:

Donate to the Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and NOWTRUTH.ORG‘s “War on Human Inequities” (WOHI) – a nonprofit project of the two. See more below.
Get educated on how you can be a better ally. Here’s an anti-racist reading list to get you started.
Learn more about why tackling racism is so key to ending hunger in America.
Talk to your kids about anti-Black racism and police violence. Start with this great guide.
This is the only beginning of the road to justice for George Floyd and many. many others. Sign the #JusticeForFloyd petition and take a stand on excessive police violence.
Black Lives Matter, and we must stand with those demanding justice, accountability, and action to confront the racism and inequality that lead to police violence and hunger alike. We’re hopeful that, together, we can make a difference.

AMWF and NOWTRUTH.ORG‘s “War on Human Inequities” (WOHI) recruits and develops leaders from low income backgrounds and organizes campaigns to address economic survival issues that people face. The WOHI agenda includes:

Funding essential community services through progressive taxes
Food Insecurity
Judicial Reform
Social Justice Reform
Criminal Justice Reform
Workers’ Rights
Affordable Housing
Health Care
Equal Education
Welfare Reform
Living Wage and Equal Pay
Immigrant Rights
Environmental justice
AMWF bases its work on the following principles:

Unity. WOHI is committed to building an organization that brings together activists from varied segments of the community by uniting families on welfare, senior citizen activists, rank-and-file union leaders and community activists into one organization.
Multi-issue. WOHI is building a multi-issue organization that adds strength and helps support the efforts of other single-issue organizations. By working collaboratively with progressive legislators and other social action groups around the state, WOHI has developed a multi-issue agenda called the “War on Human Inequities”, which addresses such issues as Food Insecurity, Judicial Reform, Criminal and Social Justice Reform, revenue, tax reform, jobs, wages, child care, health care, housing, education, and the safety net.
Power in grass-roots organization. The key factor determining the ability to make a difference in the community is the size of its network of grass-roots activists. Whether building support for the initiatives of constituent organizations or developing independent campaign, WOHI seeks to empower ordinary people to change social policies that affect their lives. The WOHI organizing approach focuses both on developing commitment and leadership of people new to social activism, and on working with existing activists and organizations to strengthen their effectiveness.
1) Judicial Reform to END the Grand Systemic and Endemic Corruption; Social Justice Reform to END the Grand Systemic and Endemic Corruption of which Systemic Racism is a part;

2) Criminal Justice Reform; Gun Violence;

3) COVID-19 & Our Communities;

4) a. Hunger and Food Insecurity;

4) b. Homelessness;

5) Racial Injustice, Equality, Racial Justice is Education Justice, Support Ethnic Studies Programs, Black Lives Matter Barber Shop, Islamophobia, Xenophobia;

6) Wealth Inequality, Income Gap, Poverty and Basic Needs;

7) Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline; School Safe Zones; Protecting Students’ Civil Rights; Facing Hate and Bias at School, Teen Violence and Abuse, Teen Depression and Suicide, Youth Alcohol Usage, Transportation;

8) Immigration, Refugee Crisis, Families Belong Together, Dreamers;

9) Healthcare, Obesity, Smoking;

10) Climate Justice Reform,

11) Voting Rights;

12) Sport and Athletes Human Rights

Background:

The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun, CityLab, 2018
4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System, Yes! Magazine, 2017
Leaders of Color Discuss Structural Racism and White Privilege in the Food System, Civil Eats, 2016
Growing Justice: Transcending Racism in the Food System, The Next System Project, 2016
Dismantling Racism in the Food System, by Food First, 2016
Uprooting Racism in the Food System: African Americans Organize, Huffington Post, 2013
Videos
The underlying racism of America’s food system: Regina Bernard-Carreno at TEDxManhattan

Impacts of Gentrification on Food Insecurity

Impacts of Gentrification on Food Insecurity

A video documentary researching the impacts of gentrification and urban renewal on the availability of food in Church Hill, the oldest neighborhood in Richmond, VA.

Bridging indigenous knowledge and science to end hunger | Muthoni Masinde | TEDxUFS

Bridging indigenous knowledge and science to end hunger | Muthoni Masinde | TEDxUFS

Muthoni reveals how indigenous knowledge is crucial for small-scale farmers, food security in Africa and the creation of effective solutions for managing the agriculture in rural areas that are plagued by droughts and mass hunger. The talk explores bridging recent technological innovation with indigenous knowledge, through the ´ITIKI´ computer science tool which can predict meteorological data inexpensively and accurately and assist local farmers. Muthoni Masinde is a computer scientist with B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D computer science degrees from the University of Nairobi, the Free University of Brussels and University of Cape Town respectively. She is currently Head of the Department of IT at the Central University of Technology. One of her greatest research achievements is the development of a novel tool to predict droughts in Africa. The tool taps into the rich African indigenous knowledge on natural disasters and augments it with ICTs. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Black Food Matters: Race and Equity in the Good Food Movement | Devita Davison | Change Food Fest

Black Food Matters: Race and Equity in the Good Food Movement | Devita Davison | Change Food Fest

In this video: Devita Davison, director of marketing and communications at FoodLab Detroit, shares the story of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, explaining the barriers there still are today for food entrepreneurs of color. FoodLab Detroit is transforming Detroit’s local food economy by supporting a diverse community of food businesses and allies working to make good food a sustainable reality for all Detroiters. About: Devita Davison, a native of Detroit and granddaughter of a preacher, lived almost 19 years in New York before moving back to her hometown of Detroit in 2012. Her words are not just letters strung together; they are vessels for love and fight, heart ache, wisdom, and profound joy. To say she wears her heart on her sleeve is an understatement; whether decrying injustices in the food system or expounding on the beauty of a ripe strawberry in summer, her passion for food justice is palpable. Stay up to date with all our Quickbites and exciting projects from Change Food! http://changefood.org Change Food is a grassroots movement creating a healthy, equitable food system. We provide various levels of expertise to organizations that are not getting sufficient support yet are creating real, replicable change. In addition, through conferences, events and special projects, Change Food raises public awareness and connects various parts of the food movement. Want to get to know us more? Get our monthly newsletter: http://bit.ly/signupCF Support us on Patreon!: http://bit.ly/PatreonCF Like us on Facebook: https://facebook.com/ChangeFoodFollow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/changeourfood Like us on Instagram: https://instagram.com/changeourfood LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7427675 Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ChangeFoodOrg

Systemic Racism in Our Food System

Systemic Racism In Our Food System

The incredible Pam Koch talks about our broken food supply and much more in the new episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, which is up now https://DrMarkHyman.lnk.to/PamKoch
Food Justice & Racism in the Food System
Racism underlies the history of agriculture and food access in the United States. It began with the taking of land from Indigenous people to create farms. It continued with the enslavement of Indigenous and African peoples to work the farms. It continued with the exploitation of immigrant labor from Asia and then Latin America. During the period of Reconstruction former slaves began to gain access to land and achieve financial success. But the death of Reconstruction saw the stealing of most of this land by whites using unjust law and outright theft. In the 1940s when Japanese Americans were forced into concentration camps by a presidential executive order, farms were again taken by unethical and greedy whites, sometimes with no consequences. Racism can also be seen in the tolerance for, and in some places, imposition of food swamps or food apartheid. These are terms are used to describe the great divide in access to healthy fresh food evident when comparing the average white community to the average community of color. This inequality in access to healthy food is a major contributor to the disproportionately high rates of diet related disease found in populations of Indigenous, African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders. Poor diets impede learning, paths to empowerment and financial success.
Food justice is the work to right this wrong. It encompasses a wide array of activities and activism. Its roots can be traced back to the Black Panther’s creation of free breakfast program for school children. The Panther’s good work helped propel passage of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 that is now operated by the US government to provide free and reduced cost school meals for all low-income students, the majority of whom are kids of color. Food justice includes development of urban agriculture projects and neighborhood kitchens, economic development initiatives to relocate healthy grocery environments in low income communities. Nutrition incentive programs that provide cash matches for SNAP and WIC benefits spent on fruits and vegetables in farmers markets and grocery stores are another form of food justice. Food justice includes the guarantees that fair proportions of public funding from the USDA and some states, will flow to farmers of color and women who have traditionally been excluded due to documented and adjudicated acts of racism or sexism. Emergent is the idea of reparations in the form of land grants to farmers of color based on the recognition that people of color have been systemically kept from owning land or had their land stolen. This latest concept is well described in Leah Penniman’s important book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.
We support food justice as a primary objective in our work and promote it as a primary goal of the food movement in general.

**************
Impacts of Racism in the Food System

Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher for Black- (22.5%) and Hispanic-headed (18.5%) households than for White-headed households (9.3%) (USDA – ERS, 2017).

Although many communities suffer from food system disparities, data shows that  Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) suffer disproportionately.
In our work over the past 25 years, we make note of research that indicates:
Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher for Black- (22.5%) and Hispanic-headed (18.5%) households than for White-headed households (9.3%) (USDA – ERS, 2017).
Communities of color and low-income families have limited access to affordable healthy food and welcoming shopping spaces due to supermarket “redlining” and “greenlining” (CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, 2018).
Mass incarceration and exploitation of Black Americans in agricultural systems has been well documented into the 1940s, enabled by collusion between law enforcement agencies and farmers (INFAS, “A Deeper Challenge of Change” report, 2018).
African Americans in North Carolina are 1.54 times more likely than white North Carolinians to live within three miles of facilities controlling animal waste (EarthJustice, 2014).
At the turn of the 20th century, formerly enslaved Black people and their heirs owned 15 million acres of land, primarily in the South, mostly used for farming. Now, Black people are only 1 percent of rural landowners in the U.S., and under 2 percent of farmers (USDA data & Food & Environment Reporting Network).
Pigford v. Glickman, a successful class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), unveiled a historical pattern of racial discrimination in the allocation of farm loans between 1981 and 1996. This is one of many examples of how these historical impacts have benefited some, while preventing access to opportunity for many.
Cases of COVID-19 disproportionately affect the Hispanic population in NC and have a higher incidence in the Black community.
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To Fight Hunger, We Must Take Action Against Racism
June 8, 2020

by Amirio Freeman, Danny Navarro, Mike Glymph, Mya Price, and Thao Nguyen
Feeding America Government Relations Team
The below text is from Feeding America Action. Addressing racism must be at the core of what we do as an anti-hunger community, and we cannot end the cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease without changing the fundamental systems and policies which perpetuate racial and other forms of inequality.
We’ve been watching the news, horrified, for the last two weeks. As police violence runs through every state, it’s clear that this is what racism looks like in America.
The reality is that racism is also fundamental to why many of our Black neighbors don’t have enough to eat. With decades of discriminatory policy that have led to poorly-funded schools, higher unemployment, lower homeownership, and worse access to food, it’s no surprise that double the number of Black households face hunger as compared to white households. The staggering economic effects of COVID-19 are set to make that even worse.
Our mission to end hunger must include taking action on racism. So, non-Black allies, we invite you to join us in recommitting to fighting racial discrimination and violence in all its forms.
Five quick actions to take right now as an ally for Black lives:
Donate to the Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and NOWTRUTH.ORG’s “War on Human Inequities” (WOHI) – a nonprofit project of the two. See more below.
Get educated on how you can be a better ally. Here’s an anti-racist reading list to get you started.
Learn more about why tackling racism is so key to ending hunger in America.
Talk to your kids about anti-Black racism and police violence. Start with this great guide.
This is the only beginning of the road to justice for George Floyd and many. many others. Sign the #JusticeForFloyd petition and take a stand on excessive police violence.
Black Lives Matter, and we must stand with those demanding justice, accountability, and action to confront the racism and inequality that lead to police violence and hunger alike. We’re hopeful that, together, we can make a difference.

AMWF and NOWTRUTH.ORG’s “War on Human Inequities” (WOHI) recruits and develops leaders from low income backgrounds and organizes campaigns to address economic survival issues that people face. The WOHI agenda includes:
Funding essential community services through progressive taxes
Food Insecurity
Judicial Reform
Social Justice Reform
Criminal Justice Reform
Workers’ Rights
Affordable Housing
Health Care
Equal Education
Welfare Reform
Living Wage and Equal Pay
Immigrant Rights
Environmental justice

AMWF bases its work on the following principles:
Unity. WOHI is committed to building an organization that brings together activists from varied segments of the community by uniting families on welfare, senior citizen activists, rank-and-file union leaders and community activists into one organization.
Multi-issue. WOHI is building a multi-issue organization that adds strength and helps support the efforts of other single-issue organizations. By working collaboratively with progressive legislators and other social action groups around the state, WOHI has developed a multi-issue agenda called the “War on Human Inequities”, which addresses such issues as Food Insecurity, Judicial Reform, Criminal and Social Justice Reform, revenue, tax reform, jobs, wages, child care, health care, housing, education, and the safety net.
Power in grass-roots organization. The key factor determining the ability to make a difference in the community is the size of its network of grass-roots activists. Whether building support for the initiatives of constituent organizations or developing independent campaign, WOHI seeks to empower ordinary people to change social policies that affect their lives. The WOHI organizing approach focuses both on developing commitment and leadership of people new to social activism, and on working with existing activists and organizations to strengthen their effectiveness.
1) Judicial Reform to END the Grand Systemic and Endemic Corruption; Social Justice Reform to END the Grand Systemic and Endemic Corruption of which Systemic Racism is a part;
2) Criminal Justice Reform; Gun Violence;
3) COVID-19 & Our Communities;
4) a. Hunger and Food Insecurity;
4) b. Homelessness;
5) Racial Injustice, Equality, Racial Justice is Education Justice, Support Ethnic Studies Programs, Black Lives Matter Barber Shop, Islamophobia, Xenophobia;
6) Wealth Inequality, Income Gap, Poverty and Basic Needs;
7) Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline; School Safe Zones; Protecting Students’ Civil Rights; Facing Hate and Bias at School, Teen Violence and Abuse, Teen Depression and Suicide, Youth Alcohol Usage, Transportation;
8) Immigration, Refugee Crisis, Families Belong Together, Dreamers;
9) Healthcare, Obesity, Smoking;
10) Climate Justice Reform,
11) Voting Rights;
12) Sport and Athletes Human Rights

In solidarity, safety, and health,
Amirio Freeman, Danny Navarro, Mike Glymph, Mya Price, and Thao Nguyen
Feeding America Government Relations Team

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Addressing the Root Causes of Food Insecurity in the U.S. – Disparities and Discrimination
April 5, 2019

by Sabea Evans
Policy & Communication Fellow, Center for Hunger-Free Communities
In 2017, 21.8% of African American households and 18% of Latinx households reported food insecurity, while the national food insecurity rate was 11.8%.
“How are racism and hunger related? Being mistreated at school, on the job, in health care and beyond, translates to lower wages and exclusion from society. When employers discriminate, people of color make lower wages than white people. When health-care providers discriminate, people cannot get the health care they need, and when the courts and the police are biased, they are more likely to put our family members behind bars, which damages their prospects for economic security.”
Sherita Mouzon, a community engagement specialist at Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities, wrote this in an op-ed for the Inquirer on the necessity of facing racism and discrimination as key factors in food insecurity in the U.S. Issues of food justice, economic and racial equity, and food sovereignty cannot be solved by our emergency food system. Racism and systemic oppression permeate all of our systems, including those that hold up pretenses of service.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Black and Latinx households have had higher annual rates of food insecurity compared to the national average among all households since 1995. Sherita’s words are part of a conversation that people of color and people living in conditions of poverty have been trying to broadcast for generations and that the Center for Hunger-Free Communities hopes to amplify.
Through examination of our Children’s HealthWatch data from interviewing nearly 700 caregivers of children under the age of four at St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital between 2015-2017, we found significant associations between reported caregivers’ experiences of discrimination based on racial or ethnic identity and food insecurity status. We asked participants for the number and context of experiences of discrimination they had encountered due to race, ethnicity, or color. To share this data and confront the lack of urgency in addressing the root causes of food insecurity in Philadelphia (and in the wider U.S.), we released a series of reports called “From Disparities to Discrimination: Getting to the Roots of Food Insecurity in America.”
The reports focus on multiple arenas in which experiences of discrimination are associated with food security: in applying for housing, public assistance offices, receiving healthcare, schools, hiring, workplaces, public settings, policing, judicial systems, and within immigrant populations. Caregivers who reported one or more experiences of discrimination were more likely to report food insecurity compared to those who had not experienced discrimination, across the board. Caregivers who were people of color who reported experiences of discrimination were more likely to report food insecurity, while the food insecurity of white caregivers was unimpacted.
Simply providing people with food has proven to be an unviable solution to ending hunger in the U.S. Policymakers, meds & eds, big businesses, non-profits, philanthropists… We all need to acknowledge, address and help people heal from the racism and discrimination in our systems and within ourselves in order to intervene in systemic oppression and reduce food insecurity in the U.S.
April is National Minority Health Month. Learn more about how to effectively work with communities to address and eliminate health disparities.
Sabea is currently the Policy & Communications Fellow at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities. She has a B.A. in Linguistics from Haverford College, where she invested much of her extra/co-curricular work in diversity, access, and engagement. Sabea’s interests also include ethical ethnographic media, language diversity and activism, and ethnolinguistics. She thrives in collaborative spaces and aspires to co-facilitate projects that amplify the voices, knowledge, and creations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
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How One Organization Can Shorten Food Bank Lines Across the United States
The nation’s largest food charity, Feeding America, has failed to embrace the progressive values needed to make a real impact. Here’s a plan to change that.

Has our collective sense of imagination and action become so limited that the best we can do is to give organic veggies to the millions of newly unemployed? Source illustration: TarikVision/SHUTTERSTOCK
By: Andrew Fisher
Dedicated to the memory of Hank Herrera, a lifelong advocate for racial justice.
This is the time of year when middle-class America gives thanks for our privilege, and considers the plight of the less fortunate. We staff the turkey dinner lines at the local homeless shelter, donate cans to the food drive, or write checks to the food bank. We do so regardless of our partisan affiliation, race, or geographical location.
Food charity is, after all, one of the few things that historically has united most Americans. While we remain a country deeply divided, it has become America’s lowest common denominator. Even the mean-spirited Trump administration has poured at least $10 billion into food banks since 2017.
The outpouring of charitable donations to food banks in the wake of the Covid economic crash makes me appreciate that we, as a nation, retain some sense of caritas, even while millions of President Trump’s supporters scoff at masks and flip the bird to any sense of communal responsibility. Yet it also frustrates me that distributing more free food, even when it is grown organically by farmers of color, is all we can seem to manage as a response to this dire situation. Never let a good crisis go to waste, Sir Winston Churchill used to say.
Never let a good crisis go to waste, Sir Winston Churchill used to say.
In 2020, when America is gasping for breath, from the smoke that chokes the West Coast, police brutality, a democracy on life support, and 12 million (and counting) people struggling with Covid-19, I wonder if our collective sense of imagination and action has become so limited that the best we can do is to give organic veggies to the millions of newly unemployed? Where is our vision? Our political project?

Andrew Fisher is the author of “Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups.”
At a moment when America’s seamy underbelly and gaping wounds of inequities, racial and otherwise, have been exposed like no time since 1929, I wonder what does it take to turn the apolitical food bank industry onto progressive politics. I keep hoping that food bankers will recognize the urgency of structural change, and embrace progressive values. Black Lives Matter. Reparations. The Green New Deal. Medicare for All. A $15 minimum wage. This is the language of social change in America. Yet, the food charity sector has almost unanimously failed to embrace any of these strategies.
For the past 40 years, since the explosion of food banks in the early 1980s, we have been handling hunger as if we were doctors, with doses of medicine in the form of food giveaways. We have been treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease. At the heart of this medical model, or hunger industrial complex — the web of connected corporations, anti-hunger groups, and government agencies that perpetuate hunger because it is profitable — sits the charity behemoth Feeding America. The nation’s second largest charity, with a $2.8 billion budget, it deploys a network of 200 food banks across the entire country, distributing 4.6 billion pounds of food annually.
Feeding America and its affiliated food banks possess an unparalleled potential to mobilize our anti-hunger response toward social, racial, and economic justice. They feed 40+ million people, engage millions of volunteers, and reach tens of millions of donors every year. They could be mobilizing and organizing half of America to take bold political action. They can be at the forefront of working with poor people to help them build power and wealth. But progress remains geographically uneven and sporadic.
The silver lining in this horrible year can be that food bankers finally step on the gas and accelerate toward justice. They will need a road map to get there. Here, I propose a 10-point plan for how Feeding America could play a leading role in substantially reducing the incidence of food insecurity for millions of Americans.

1. Support labor-friendly policies, including a higher minimum wage
Analysis: Prior to the pandemic, the vast majority of emergency food recipients were employed, largely at jobs that paid low wages, or where they were unable to gain full-time work on a regular basis. The minimum wage still remains at $7.25 in 21 states. A $15 minimum wage would make 1.2 million households food secure. Yet, Feeding America and the vast majority of its network have failed to take a position on raising the minimum wage, either nationally or at the state level.
Action: Feeding America and its network need to support a national $15 minimum wage by 2023, starting first with paying a living wage to its own employees and contractors. Yet raising the minimum wage is just one part of the solution. Other important policies that they should support include eliminating the sub-minimum tipped wage for restaurant employees, and establishing predictive scheduling, paid sick leave, and anti-wage theft policies. Oregon Food Bank has done an exemplary job here.
2. Place racial equity at the center of their work
Analysis: Racism is at the root of poverty, which is in turn at the root of hunger. Yet the emergency food system only reinforces this racism, both at the inter-personal and structural levels. For example, volunteers (disproportionately white) get to control what recipients (disproportionately people of color) get to eat. The system does little to build power, wealth, or agency for their patrons.
Action: Like most non-profit organizations and other institutions in the United States, food banks need to own their legacy and 40-year history of unconsciously perpetuating structural racism before they can undo the harm they have done. They should seek to dismantle racist practices within their organization, and become strong forces for anti-racism. They can develop an action plan to make changes, such as advocating for dismantling the policies and practices that perpetuate gaping health inequities linked to social determinants of nutritious food access, holding themselves accountable to the communities that they serve. Follow the lead of the Oregon Food Bank in this area.
3. Expand SNAP organizing
Analysis: SNAP provides nine times the amount of food as food banks. It is the keystone to ensuring food security, yet its benefit levels are set at unrealistically low levels. Feeding America has dedicated substantial resources to fighting against new restrictions and for expanded funding during the pandemic.
Action: This is one area in which Feeding America could not only expand its own staffing but fund organizing positions in key states to grow the SNAP program. It should place SNAP as its top policy priority alongside advocating for an increased minimum wage. Bread for the World does an exemplary job of mobilizing its communities toward policy action.
4. Diversify their Board
Analysis: Who’s at the table shapes what’s on the agenda. And by and large, it’s white people who work in corporate America who sit on food bank boards. My own review found that 22 percent of the board members of food banks worked at Fortune 1000 companies or their private sector equivalent. Very few are persons of color and even fewer are people with lived experience of hunger. These governance structures keep food banks as appendages of the food industry, not as agents of social change.
Action: Feeding America and its affiliates need to be held accountable to the people and communities that they serve. They should set ambitious targets for board diversity, including by occupation, ethnicity, gender, and include people with lived experience of food insecurity, and provide incentives for the network to do the same. Look to the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, CA, for an example of how to engage community residents in its public policy advocacy.
5. Establish a strategic plan for a 50 percent reduction in food banking from pre-Covid levels by 2028
Analysis: Before the pandemic, the amount of food distributed by Feeding America food banks doubled over the past decade. Part of this increase is due to contractual obligations that mandated a 50 percent increase of food distributed per person in poverty. Despite this increase in food distribution, food insecurity did not dip below 1995 levels until 2018. Clearly there is not a statistically significant link between reducing food insecurity and emergency food distribution.
Action: As part of its annual contract with its network, Feeding America should stipulate a reduction in the amount of food delivered per person in poverty with a corresponding increase in other social indicators, such as social capital, poverty reduction, and resilience. They can reorient funding, such as the $100 million Jeff Bezos donated, to strategic shrinking initiatives to address the root causes of hunger, rather than expanded capacity. Bring in community members with lived experience of poverty, alongside researchers to help develop innovative measures of success, beyond just persons served and pounds distributed. Look to the great work of the Community Food Centres of Canada for innovation in measuring success beyond food distribution.
6. Reorient their communications
Analysis: For far too long, Feeding America and its affiliates have systematically misled the public that charity can end hunger. It’s been done in the name of raising funds to keep their good work going. It’s led to a crisis of imagination, which has, in the current pandemic, meant that funders double down on hunger relief efforts rather than addressing the root causes.
Action: Revise their communication strategy to reinforce new root cause-oriented programming. Tell the public that we can’t food bank our way out of hunger, and that’s why we’re investing more funding into fighting tomorrow’s hunger through policy advocacy, human development, and addressing the social determinants of health. Boldly name the root causes of hunger and debunk the bootstraps myth that prevents our country from fulfilling its protective obligations to our most vulnerable citizens. Consider Northwest Harvest’s role to get passed a constitutional amendment in Washington to establish the right to food.
7. Put a moratorium on expansion
Analysis: Buildings become stakeholders. The bigger the food bank building, the more sophisticated the infrastructure, the more pressure staff and Board will feel to ramp up their distribution efforts. It’s like building a new lane on the freeway to reduce congestion. It doesn’t work. It just creates more traffic. For too long, food banks have seen newer, shinier, bigger digs with larger freezers and coolers as a key strategy to expanding their capacity to feeding the need.
Action: Feeding America should put into its contract language a clause to actively discourage and penalize food banks that undertake expansion campaigns. Similarly, they should seek to diminish their food procurement department while redirecting resources to policy advocacy, organizing, and a new department of strategic shrinking. Foodlink in Rochester, NY, did a great job of not expanding, but instead using its space strategically to support community-based food businesses.
8. Keep up the great work on health and take it to the next step
Analysis: In the face of epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the quality of the food passing through Feeding America’s network has undeniably improved in recent years. The amount of produce has increased dramatically. More food banks have nutrition policies and staff to evaluate the quality of the product they distribute. Roughly one in seven food banks no longer accept soda or candy.
Action: Feeding America has done a good job of increasing produce distribution, but has largely failed to limit unhealthy foods in the system. Mazon’s seminal report (A Tipping Point) has shown how snack foods and baked goods are still overrepresented in food pantries. They should set national standards, rejecting sugary beverages and candy, while continuing to fund projects that connect food banks with local agriculture. Similarly, they should recognize that access to health care is a critical variable in the health and financial status of its clientele (medical bills are the primary cause of bankruptcies in the U.S.), and should actively support universal free health care. Consider the work of the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County (CA) to re-focus itself on improving community health as its core purpose.
9. Re-examine the relationship between food banks and Big Food and Big Ag
Analysis: The Feeding America network has a massive conflict of interest problem on its hands through its reliance on corporations with egregious labor, health, and environmental practices such as Smithfield, Walmart, Amazon, and Tyson. These are companies that cause hunger among their millions of employees through their practices, yet Feeding America casts them as hunger fighters in their partnership promotions.
Action: Until Feeding America approves corporate donation policies that establish clear criteria for its acceptance of food and cash, it will continue to be ethically compromised. Its continued relationship with agri-business enables them to over-produce, while having the benefit of a morally acceptable way to dispose of their surplus products. Feeding America needs to adopt a more sophisticated analysis of its role in promoting food waste and in enabling bad actors to continue their egregious labor practices. Look to WhyHunger for model corporate donation policies, as a starting point.
10. Embrace sustainable food systems as a core part of their mission
Analysis: As some of the largest food-oriented non-profits with transportation staffing, and cooling resources, food banks can and should play a role in supporting community economic development programs in their local area. Many food banks have indeed become an integral element of their local food systems, through buying from local farmers, allowing local businesses to utilize their facilities off-hours, serving as a food hub, hosting farmers markets, supporting community gardening programs, and operating organic farms.
Action: While many individual food banks have embraced local food systems as a core part of their work, they have done so largely without support from Feeding America. Feeding America can play many roles, such as aggregating data about the impacts of the work of individual food banks in this area, providing financial resources, researching and disseminating information on best practices, as well as communicating to the public about the importance of these efforts. The Food Bank of Northern Alabama and the Atlanta Community Food Bank have done exemplary work in this area.

Andrew Fisher has worked in the anti-hunger field for 25 years, as the executive director of national and local food groups, and as a researcher, organizer, policy advocate, and coalition builder. He is the author of “Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups.”

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Our Statement on Racial Justice
At Food Bank of Central New York, our mission is to work to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education, and advocacy in cooperation with the community. As leaders in the fight against hunger, we must lend our voices to those partners and organizations calling for justice. Systemic racism lies at the heart of many issues that contribute to food insecurity across our communities and America.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been priorities for Food Bank of Central New York and will continue to be as we move forward. These goals are in our current strategic plan and a part of our core values and we work hard to integrate them in our daily work. As we all navigate through the days and weeks ahead we extend our support and hope that through all of this we will become a more just and equitable world for all.

District Attorney Grants New Trials to 22 Defendants, Reversing Legacy of a Brutal Judge

District Attorney Grants New Trials to 22 Defendants, Reversing Legacy of a Brutal Judge
BY CALVIN JOHNSON
MAR 5, 2021 – 6:00 PM


Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams talks with the media announcing an unprecedented and sweeping legal action that his office waived all objections to new trials for 22 state prisoners convicted by split juries between the years 1974 and 2014 on the Orleans Parish Courthouse steps Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Staff photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
PHOTO BY DAVID GRUNFELD DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY

When District Attorney Jason Williams’ office told me he would grant 22 defendants convicted by nonunanimous juries new trials, I was amazed. I didn’t know the event would trigger so many memories. That Williams started this in Section G, Frank Shea’s court, was intentional.

I watched Shea brutalize defendants there. It is easy to focus on those tried within minutes, as the article does (Terrance Knox’s 1996 murder trial, during Shea’s waning months in office, lasted three hours) but every day he jailed people for little or nothing.

He single-handedly contributed to mass incarceration and intergenerational trauma. Think about those young people he put in jail for little or nothing. They went into jail as children and they came out labeled as criminals. There was a simple reason: Once stamped with a felony conviction, they were doomed for life.

Worst was the media, print and electronic, who portrayed him as a crime-fighting hero. Shea’s speed on the bench was the stuff of legends. In 1975, he purportedly held 168 jury trials, and the following year the Louisiana Legislature commended him for “silencing long-winded, redundant attorneys.” In 1984, Shea held six felony trials in a single day, The Lens reported.

A hundred and sixty-eight trials in one year mean few if any of those received what our Constitution requires — effective assistance of counsel. They received no representation at all because there was not a real public defense system.

The media couldn’t care less. They perpetuated Jim Crow and racism, created a mindset in New Orleans and Louisiana this was a good thing. In keeping with his need to achieve his trial results, he never appointed the Tulane or Loyola Law Clinic, supervised by me, to represent anyone in his court. He literally said to me, “Why are you here? You don’t represent anyone in this court.” My reply: “I just came to watch.”

At Williams’ news conference, former District Attorney Ed Tarpley, of Alexandria, who led the fight for the unanimous jury constitutional amendment, shared these thoughts: God hates injustice. And let me tell you that Louisiana has lived through generations of injustice and this is our chance to change that. And what this man has done here today is a step forward to restore true justice in Louisiana and fight the generations of injustice that have plagued the citizens of our state too long.

This is a new day for New Orleans and Louisiana. We have the power legally and morally to correct past wrongs. John P. Nelson, director of the Loyola Law Clinic, said “It’s never too late to do what’s right.” This is Williams’ time but — more importantly, our time — to do what’s right.
CALVIN JOHNSON
Retired Chief Judge, New Orleans

WHO We serve Demographics

We serve many, many People of different ages and nationalities depending on location
We serve over 30,000 people a month from our various location partners where the ethnic and racial makeup of the people we serve dramatically changes from location to location that we serve. The composition of those we serve in the deep East Oakland area is vastly different from those we serve in Livermore/Pleasanton, Berkeley, Union City, Sacramento, or Vallejo. That’s impossible to calculate as it changes with every distribution.

Here is the guestimated percentage of people served from the following categories using the EEOC definitions of race.

Asian: 0%

As much as maybe 40% in certain locations such as downtown Oakland for example.

Black or African American: 0%

As much as maybe 70% in certain locations such as East Oakland above International Blvd. for example.

Hispanic or Latinx: 0%

We serve many immigrants and refugees that are from that are of that make up, as much as maybe 70% in certain locations such as East Oakland below International Blvd., or Fruitval District for example.

Middle Eastern or North African: 0%

We serve many immigrants and refugees that are from that area and Muslim, as much as maybe 95% in certain religious locations.

Native American or Alaska Native: 0%

Although our CEO and family are of Native American descent, AMWF does not serve many, maybe 2% in certain locations.

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%

We serve many, many Islanders, maybe 8% in certain locations.

White (European descent): 0%

As much as maybe 15% in certain locations.

Two or More, Mixed Races: 0%

As much as maybe 1% in certain locations.

Boys and Men of Color: 0%

As much as maybe 30% in certain locations.

Differently Abled People: 0%

As much as maybe 5% in certain locations.

Girls and Women of Color: 0%

As much as maybe 70% in certain locations.

Immigrants, including Naturalized Citizens: 0%

As much as maybe 40% in certain locations.

Incarcerated/Formerly Incarcerated People: 0%

As much as maybe 10% in certain locations.

LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and more): 0%

As much as maybe 10% in certain locations.

Low Wage Workers: 0%

As much as maybe 90% in certain locations.

Opportunity Youth (ages 16-24, not working and not in school): 0%

As much as maybe 30% in certain locations.

Refugees: 0%

As much as maybe 25% in certain locations.

Underemployed Workers (Part-time workers who would prefer to be full-time): 0%

As much as maybe 30% in certain locations.

Undocumented Immigrants: 0%

As much as maybe 25% in certain locations.

Unemployed People: 0%

As much as maybe 85% in certain locations.

You can make your check payable to: AARON & MARGARET WALLACE FOUNDATION (AMWF), 4200 Park Blvd, Ste# 116, Oakland, CA 94602; you can donate with Paypal email to: amwft@amwftrust.org, or our PayPal Fundraising Link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=SE6DGFDH9XVKL.

FaceBook Fundrazr
AMWF has a 100% donation policy, and we are transparent about how we use donations.
May Allah (swt) bless you for your Zakat, Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariya donations, iA!

You can view the AARON & MARGARET WALLACE FOUNDATION, (AMWF) video of Imam Zaid Shakir and the Lighthouse Mosque of Oakland, Ca., https://youtu.be/Ez8Wse1ghXU

Berkeley Masjid in Berkeley, Ca, iA, at:

Noor Islamic & Cultural Community Center at:

the CALIFA’s – (Center for Advance Learning Improving Family Awareness) Vallejo, CA at: https://youtu.be/MVXeno23U9I

Muslimas Free Food Giveaway at Masjid al-Islam at:

Masjidul Waritheen in Oakland, CA, at: https://youtu.be/VtFKhaXFhqk

Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation Free Food Program Celebrity Giving Back. The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation really catered to everyone Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the “Oakland’s Got Talent” event at DeFermery Park. We distributed $25,000 worth of groceries FREE to ALL that came, “Fresh Start” Backpack Giveaway with 5,000 FREE Backpacks filled with school supplies, haircuts, manicures, health services, picnic Bar-B-Q lunch, games, entertainment, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1rTp4eDaUo

The second one is Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation Kids Celebrity Gift Back Packs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-Ay8hwnKvA

You can view the following Santa Fe Elementary School’s Peace March with Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation, SemiFreddi’s, Trader Joe’s, Little Ceasar’s Pizza, Marshawn Lynch’s “Fam1ly F1rst” and Leon Powe’s “Fresh Start Oakland”:

Santa Fe Elementary School’s Peace March with Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgBFtZcRVwA

Santa Fe Elementary Little Caesars Pizza Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUChKi5FzWg

Santa Fe Elementary Little Caesars Pizza Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILB6KRTkkEE

Here’s the ABC-TV broadcast of our “Community Movement Toward Improvement” Music Conference in Oakland, California featuring MC Hammer, Martin Wyatt-KGO TV, Mohammed (MTV Real World-SF), Sway, Imani, Davey D, Raphael Saadiq- Tony Toni Tone, Greg Khalid Peck- Warner Bros,Karen Lee- Warner Bros Music, Eric B, Rico Cassanova, Abdul-Jalil,Tony Collins- Giant Records, Anita Greathouse-Knight, Gene Shelton, Lenny Williams,Thembisa Mshaka, Roy Tesfaye-Death Row Records shown in ABC-TV news clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMukHQgim0Q

Here’s the “I Know You’ll Love Oakland” Commercial for the City of Oakland Image Campaign.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWXcv5jg6PE

Here’s Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson’s City Urban Economic Development Conference Commercial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvDKfRQlwZU

Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation Kids Celebrity Gift BackPacks

Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation Free Food Program Celebrity Giving Back

Santa Fe Elementary School’s Peace March with Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation, SemiFreddi’s, Trader

Joe’s, Little Ceasar’s Pizza, Marshawn Lynch’s “Fam1ly F1rst” and Leon Powe’s “Fresh Start Oakland

Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and Santa Fe Elementary LilCaesars Pizza Part 1

Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and Santa Fe Elementary LilCaesars Pizza Part 2

Abdul-Jalil Honored in Port Au-Prince, Haiti and Miami, Fla. for Relief Missions to Haiti

The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and ¿eX-whY AdVentures? Trader Joe’s Emeryville KPFA Interview Video

The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and ¿eX-whY AdVentures? Trader Joe’s Emeryville Customer Appreciation

The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and ¿eX-whY AdVentures? Trader Joe’s Alameda Customer Appreciation

The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Foundation and ¿eX-whY AdVentures? Entourage & Randy Holland in Trader Joe’s Pinole “Tribute to Legends of Jazz” Show

Abdul-Jalil Honored in Port Au-Prince, Haiti and Miami, Fla. for Relief Missions to Haiti

Thanks You from Arch Bishop Joel Jeune to Abdul-Jalil

Here’s the link to the YouTube video from radio station KPFA’s July 17, 2010 broadcast with Tom Frainier, a Haas boardmember and owner of SemiFreddis; with Cal Haas Business School student Gian “G” Pepe of Pepe International/Little Napoli Resturant/Carmel Bakery discussing Haas School of Business, the Y.E.A.H. Program, The Bread Project and giving back to the community. The video includes lots of good stuff on the Bread Project with some very appetizing shots of their products and it will make you hungry for some of your delectable wares upon watching! All the folks at Haas Business School have been in love with it for some time now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUCyNYRqP4c

Dr. Kenya Numan discuss AMWF relief missions to Haiti on KPFA Radio Part 1, https://youtu.be/GsgrngbfHn8

Dr. Kenya Numan discuss AMWF relief missions to Haiti on KPFA Radio Part 2, https://youtu.be/HGsdfrxvPZE

Dr. Kenya Numan discuss AMWF relief missions to Haiti on KPFA Radio Part 3, https://youtu.be/IK-g9wSqiyo

Dr. Kenya Numan discuss AMWF relief missions to Haiti on KPFA Radio Part 4, https://youtu.be/w1r4Kwc-wpQ

Sincerely,

Abdul-Jalil
President
510.394.4501

Ten Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice

Ten Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice
Programs

Social Justice
Racial, Gender & LGBTQ Justice
Human Rights in the United States
Similar Resources: Messaging Memo
Published: 2020
Communications and culture have the power to move hearts and minds in ways that facts and advocacy often cannot. We understand this challenge — and built an intersectional communication lab so that, together, we can deliver messages and narratives that speak to Americans’ best selves.

As we strive to improve conversations about race, racism, and racial justice in this country, the environment in which we’re speaking seems to be constantly shifting, which shows that these conversations are more important than ever. We’ve put together some advice on finding entry points based on research, experience, and the input of partners from around the country. This is by no means a complete list, but it is a starting point for moving these discussions forward.
Please note that while there are many reasons to communicate with various audiences about racial justice issues, this memo focuses on messaging with the primary goal of persuading them toward action. There are many times when people need to communicate their anger, frustration, and pain to the world and to speak truth to power. Doing so may not always be persuasive, but that obviously doesn’t make it any less important. Since we’re considering persuasion a priority goal in this memo, please consider the following advice through that lens.

1. Lead with Shared Values: Justice, Opportunity, Community, Equity

Starting with values that matter to your audience can help people to “hear” your messages more effectively than dry facts or emotional rhetoric would. Encouraging people to think about shared values encourages aspirational, hopeful thinking. When possible, this can be a better place to start when entering tough conversations than a place of fear or anxiety.
Sample Language:
Sample 1: To work for all of us, the people responsible for our justice system have to be resolute in their commitment to equal treatment and investigations based on evidence, not stereotypes or bias. But too often, police departments use racial profiling, which singles people out because of their race or accent, instead of evidence of wrongdoing. That’s against our national values, it endangers our young people, and it reduces public safety. We need to ensure that law enforcement officials are held to the constitutional standards we value as Americans—protecting public safety and the rights of all.
Sample 2: We’re a better country when we make sure everyone has a chance to meet their full potential. We say we’re a country founded on the ideals of opportunity and equality and we have a real responsibility to live up to those values. Discrimination based on race is contrary to our values and we need to do everything in our power to end it.

2. Use Values as a Bridge, Not a Bypass.

Opening conversations with shared values helps to emphasize society’s role in affording a fair chance to everyone. But starting conversations here does not mean avoiding discussions of race. We suggest bridging from shared values to the roles of racial equity and inclusion in fulfilling those values for all. Doing so can move audiences into a frame of mind that is more solution-oriented and less mired in skepticism about the continued existence of discrimination or our ability to do anything about it.
Sample Language:
It’s in our nation’s interest to ensure that everyone enjoys full and equal opportunity. But that’s not happening in our educational system today, where children of color face overcrowded classrooms, uncertified teachers, and excessive discipline far more often than their white peers. If we don’t attend to those inequalities while improving education for all children, we will never become the nation that we aspire to be.
Example:
A beautiful thing about this country is its multiracial character. But right now, we’ve got diversity with a lot of segregation and inequity. I want to see a truly inclusive society. I think we will always struggle as a country toward that—no post-racial society is possible or desirable—but every generation can make progress toward that goal. – Rinku Sen, Race Forward, to NBC News[1]

3. Know the Counter Narratives.

Some themes consistently emerge in conversations about race, particularly from those who do not want to talk about unequal opportunity or the existence of racism. While we all probably feel like we know these narratives inside out, it’s still important to examine them and particularly to watch how they evolve and change. The point in doing this is not to argue against each theme point by point, but to understand what stories are happening in people’s heads when we try to start a productive conversation. A few common themes include:
The idea that racism is “largely” over or dying out over time.
People of color are obsessed with race.
Alleging discrimination is itself racist and divisive.
Claiming discrimination is “playing the race card,” opportunistic, hypocritical demagoguery.
Civil rights are a crutch for those who lack merit or drive.
If we can address class inequality, racial inequity will take care of itself.
Racism will always be with us, so it’s a waste of time to talk about it.

4. Talk About the Systemic Obstacles to Equal Opportunity and Equal Justice.

Too often our culture views social problems through an individual lens – what did a person do to “deserve” his or her specific condition or circumstance? But we know that history, policies, culture and many other factors beyond individual choices have gotten us to where we are today.
When we’re hoping to show the existence of discrimination or racism by pointing out racially unequal conditions, it’s particularly important to tell a full story that links cause (history) and effect (outcome). Without this important link, some audiences can walk away believing that our health care, criminal justice or educational systems work fine and therefore differing outcomes exist because BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color) are doing something wrong.
Example:
“The widely-discussed phenomenon of ‘driving while black’ illustrates the potential abuse of discretion by law enforcement. A two-year study of 13,566 officer-initiated traffic stops in a Midwestern city revealed that minority drivers were stopped at a higher rate than whites and were also searched for contraband at a higher rate than their white counterparts. Yet, officers were no more likely to find contraband on minority motorists than white motorists.” – The Sentencing Project publication, “Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: A Manual for Policymakers”[2]
“Native Americans and Alaska Natives are often unable to vote because there are no polling places anywhere near them. Some communities, such as the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada and the Goshute Reservation in Utah, are located more than 100 miles from the nearest polling place.” – Julian Brave NoiseCat, Native Issues Fellow at the Huffington Post[3]

5. Be Rigorously Solution-Oriented and Forward-Looking.

After laying the groundwork for how the problem has developed, it’s key to move quickly to solutions. Some people who understand that unequal opportunity exists may also believe that nothing can be done about it, leading to “compassion fatigue” and inaction. Wherever possible, link a description of the problem to a clear, positive solution and action, and point out who is responsible for taking that action.
Sample Language:
Sample 1: Asian Americans often face particularly steep obstacles to needed health care because of language and cultural barriers, as well as limited insurance coverage. Our Legislature can knock down these barriers by putting policies in place that train health professionals, provide English language learning programs, and organize community health centers.
Sample 2: The Department of Justice, Congress, local and state legislatures, and prosecutors’ offices should ensure that there is fairness in the prosecutorial decision-making process by requiring routine implicit bias training for prosecutors; routine review of data metrics to expose and address racial inequity; and the incorporation of racial impact review in performance review for individual prosecutors. DOJ should issue guidance to prosecutors on reducing the impact of implicit bias in prosecution.[4]
Example:
“Organizing to achieve public policy change is one major aspect of our larger mission to create freedom and justice for all Black people. Our aim is to equip young people with a clear set of public policy goals to organize towards and win in their local communities.” –BYP 100, “Agenda to Keep Us Safe,” website[5]

6. Consider Audience and Goals.

In any communications persuasion strategy, we should recognize that different audiences need different messages and different resources. In engaging on topics around race, racism, and racial justice, this is particularly important. We all know that people throughout the country are in very different places when it comes to their understanding of racial justice issues and their willingness to talk about them. While white people in particular need anti-racism resources and messaging that brings them into conversations about racism, there exists uncertainty or inexperience in other groups when it comes to talking about, for instance, anti-Black racism, stereotypes around indigenous communities, or anti-immigrant sentiments that are highly racialized. In strategizing about audience, the goal should be to both energize the base and persuade the undecided. A few questions to consider:

7. Be Explicit About the Intertwined Relationship Between Racism and Economic Opportunity and the Reverberating Consequences.

Many audiences prefer to think that socio-economic factors stand on their own and that if, say, the education system were more equitable, or job opportunities more plentiful, then we would see equal opportunity for everyone. Racism perpetuates poverty among BIPOC and leads these communities to be stratified into living in neighborhoods that lack the resources of white peers with similar incomes. That said, we need to be clear that racism causes more and different problems than poverty, low-resourced neighborhoods or challenged educational systems do and that fixing those things is not enough. They are interrelated, to be sure, but study after study, as well as so many people’s lived experiences, show that even after adjusting for socio-economic factors, racial inequity persists.
Example:
Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a new study that traced the lives of millions of children.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.[6]

8. Describe How Racial Bias and Discrimination Hold Us All Back.

In addition to showing how discrimination and unequal opportunity harm people of color, it’s important to explain how systemic biases affect all of us and prevent us from achieving our full potential as a country. We can never truly become a land of opportunity while we allow racial inequity to persist. And ensuring equal opportunity for all is in our shared economic and societal interest. In fact, eight in ten Americans believe that society functions better when all groups have an equal chance in life.[7]
Research also shows that people are more likely to acknowledge that discrimination against other groups is a problem – and more likely to want to do something about it – if they themselves have experienced it. Most people have at some point felt on the “outside” or that they were unfairly excluded from something, and six in ten report that they’ve experienced discrimination based on race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or accent.[8] Reminding people of this feeling can help them think about what racism and oppression really mean for others as well as themselves.
Sample Language:
Virtually all of us have been part of a family with kids, some of us are single parents, and many of us will face disabilities as we age. Many of those circumstances lead to being treated differently – maybe in finding housing, looking for a job, getting an education. We need strong laws that knock down arbitrary and subtle barriers to equal access that any of us might face.
Examples:
“Discrimination isn’t just an insult to our most basic notions of fairness. It also costs us money, because those who are discriminated against are unable to make the best use of their talents. This not only hurts them, it hurts us all, as some of our best and brightest players are, in essence, sidelined, unable to make their full contributions to our economy.” – David Futrelle, Economic Reporter in Time Magazine[9]
“Racial inclusion and income inequality are key factors driving regional economic growth, and are positively associated with growth in employment, output, productivity, and per capita income, according to an analysis of 118 metropolitan regions. … Regions that became more equitable in the 1990s—with reductions in racial segregation, income disparities, or concentrated poverty—experienced greater economic growth as measured by increased per capita income.” – PolicyLink publication, “All-In Nation”[10]

9. Listen to and Center the Voices of BIPOC.

As social justice advocates, we should be accustomed to centering the voices of those who are most affected by any issue. It should go without saying that when talking about racism, that BIPOC should lead the strategies about how to counter it and dismantle white supremacy. This means:
Taking cues from anti-racist BIPOC leaders on things like preferred language and strategy;
Reducing erasure and unpaid labor by giving credit and/or compensation to BIPOC who have sparked movements, coined terms, tested and spread language and so on; and
Being vigilant in ensuring that those who have power in our movement share that power with BIPOC, particularly those whose voices have been marginalized and those who experience multiple barriers due biases that affect them intersectionally on many levels.
Centering anti-racist BIPOC voices does not mean expecting members of each group to relive their particular oppression by describing it — or examples of it — for the benefit of the larger movement.
It also does not mean expecting only BIPOC to speak out about racism and oppression. There is room for many voices and a role for different people with different audiences to do the work of changing the narrative about race in this country.

10. Embrace and Communicate Our Racial and Ethnic Diversity while Decentering Whiteness as a Lens and Central Frame.

Underscore that different people and communities encounter differing types of stereotypes and discrimination based on diverse and intersectional identities. This may mean, for example, explaining the sovereign status of tribal nations, the unique challenges posed by treaty violations, and the specific solutions that are needed. At the same time, we need to place whiteness in the context it deserves: as a part of the larger whole and not the center of it. Too often even well-meaning language assume white as the “norm,” which implies that anyone else is an “other.”
Sample Language:
The United States purports to revere the ideals of equality and opportunity. But we’ve never lived up to these ideals, and some of us face more barriers than others in achieving this because of who we are, what we look like or where we come from. We have to recognize this and move toward the ideal that we should all be able to live up to our own potential, whether we are new to this country, or living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, on reservations that are facing economic challenges, or in abandoned factory towns.
Example:
“We affirm our commitment to stand against environmental racism and to support Indigenous sovereignty. Across the United States, Black and Brown communities are subject to higher rates of asthma and other diseases resulting from pollution and malnutrition; as demonstrated recently not only at Standing Rock but also through the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Our neighborhoods are more likely to have landfills, toxic factories, fracking, and other forms of environmental violence inflicted on them. We will not let this continue.” – Million Hoodies, blog[11]
“At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are ‘different’ in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.
They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong.” – Reni Eddo-Lodge, author[12]
“The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. … ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies. … The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitates draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security.” – George Takei, actor, in the Washington Post[13]
Applying the Lessons
VPSA: Value, Problem, Solution, Action
One useful approach to tying these lessons together is to structure communications around Value, Problem, Solution, and Action, meaning that each message contains these four key components: Values (why the audience should care, and how they will connect the issue to themselves), Problem (framed as a threat to the shared values we have just invoked), Solution (stating what you’re for), and Action (a concrete ask of the audience, to ensure engagement and movement).

EXAMPLE
Value
To work for all of us, our justice system depends on equal treatment and investigations based on evidence, not stereotypes or bias.
Problem
But many communities continue to experience racial profiling, where members are singled out only because of what they look like. In one Maryland study, 17.5% of motorists speeding on a parkway were African-American, and 74.7% were white, yet over 70% of the drivers whom police stopped and searched were black, and at least one trooper searched only African American. Officers were no more likely to find contraband on black motorists than white motorists. These practices erode community trust in police and make the goal of true community safety more difficult to achieve.
Solution
We need shared data on police interactions with the public that show who police are stopping, arresting and why. These kinds of data encourage transparency and trust and help police strategize on how to improve their work. They also help communities get a clear picture of police interactions in the community.
Action
Urge your local police department to join police from around the country and participate in these important shared databases.

EXAMPLE
Value
We’re a better country when we make sure everyone has a chance to meet his, her, or their potential. We say we’re a country founded on the ideals of opportunity and equality and we have a real responsibility to live up to those values. Racism is a particular affront to our values and we need to do everything in our power to end it.
Problem
Yet we know that racism persists, and that its effects can be devastating. For instance, African American pregnant women are two to three times more likely to experience premature birth and three times more likely to give birth to a low birth weight infant. This disparity persists even after controlling for factors, such as low income, low education, and alcohol and tobacco use. To explain these persistent differences, researchers now say that it’s likely the chronic stress of racism that negatively affects the body’s hormonal levels and increases the likelihood of premature birth and low birth weights.
Solution
We all have a responsibility to examine the causes and effects of racism in our country. We have to educate ourselves and learn how to talk about them with those around us. While we’ve made some important progress in decreasing discrimination and racism, we can’t pretend we’ve moved beyond it completely.
Action
Join a racial justice campaign near you.

EXAMPLE
Value
We believe in treating everybody fairly, regardless of what they look like or where their ancestors came from.
Problem
But what we believe consciously and what we feel and do unconsciously can be two very different things and despite our best attempts to rid ourselves of prejudices and stereotypes, we all have them – it just depends how conscious they are. All of us today know people of different races and ethnicities. And we usually treat each other respectfully and joke around together at work. But for most of us – Americans of all colors – the subtle or not so subtle attitudes of our parents or grandparents, who grew up in a different time, are still with us, even if we consciously reject them.
Solution
Personally, I look forward to the day when we can all see past color—all of us, white and black, brown and Asian. To do that, we all have to be aware of what’s going on in our own heads right now. And how that collective bias has shaped our history and where we are now.
Action
But we’re just not there yet. Let’s make it a priority to get there. [14]
 

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/envisioning-enacting-racial-justice-rinku-sen-force-behind-race-forward-n459996
[2] The Sentencing Project. Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: A Manual for Policymakers, 2008
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-native-american-issues_us_55b7d801e4b0074ba5a6869c
[4] https://transformingthesystem.org
[5] http://agendatobuildblackfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/BYP100-Agenda-to-Keep-Us-Safe-AKTUS.pdf
[6] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/19/upshot/race-class-white-and-black-men.html
[7] The Opportunity Agenda/Langer Associates. The Opportunity Survey, 2014.
[8] Ibid.
[9] http://business.time.com/2013/02/19/discrimination-doesnt-make-dollars-or-sense/
[10] https://www.policylink.org/sites/default/files/AllInNation-book.pdf
[11] http://millionhoodies.net/million-hoodies-in-solidarity-with-standing-rock/
[12] Reni Eddo-Lodge: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, The Guardian (May 31, 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2017/may/31/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race-podcast
[13] George Takei: They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims Washington Post (November 18, 2016). https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/11/18/george-takei-they-interned-my-family-dont-let-them-do-it-to-muslims/?utm_term=.8e15097e3b44
[14] Modified from messages tested in Speaking to the Public about Unconscious Prejudice: Meta-issues on Race and Ethnicity. Drew Westen, Ph.D. March 2014

Marshawn Lynch explains his ‘unmatchable’ love for Oakland, how he’s giving back

Marshawn Lynch explains his ‘unmatchable’ love for Oakland, how he’s giving back
Photo of Scott Ostler
Scott Ostler
Feb. 3, 2021
Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 9:19 p.m.
Comments
Former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, born and raised in Oakland, is working to improve the town he loves.
Former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, born and raised in Oakland, is working to improve the town he loves.
Jae C. Hong / Associated Press 2018
Remember Marshawn Lynch’s wild sideline dance when he played for the Raiders in 2017?

Near the end of an easy win over the Jets at the Coliseum, “I’m Really From Oakland” blared over the PA system, and Lynch let his hair down, and up, dancing happily, dreadlocks flying.

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The reason I bring up the dance is because, as it turns out, that’s pretty much how Lynch does interviews.

During his 12-year NFL career, Lynch led the league in straight-arming the media. He seldom did interviews, and when hit with stiff fines for not talking, he turned his media silence into a sideshow of its own.

Now I see what we were missing all those years.

During a recent one-on-one Zoom interview, Lynch bopped around nonstop, waving his arms, flinging his dreads, talking about his city, his town.

Who says Lynch doesn’t open up to the media?

For openers: “Hey, how you doin’, chief? All right, big dog, what’s goin’ on?”

Mostly he talked about his hometown, which is at the heart of the many business and cultural ventures on his plate in his retirement from football.

Lynch could serve as the poster dude for athletes giving back to their community.

“That love that I have for my city is just, I just feel it’s unmatchable,” said Lynch, who went to Oakland Tech and Cal. “Anytime I have a opportunity to do something that will shed some light on my city, rather than the negative aspect that we get, I try to shine a lot on that end as often as I can.”

The trucks of Lynch’s Fam1st Family Foundation are familiar sights at Oakland schools, dropping off loads of backpacks and school supplies. His Beast Mode apparel store in the heart of town is part of his real-estate and business efforts to boost Oakland. Kids know they can drop by the Beast Mode store for a free haircut if they show a good report card. Lynch touted his involvement in the Pro Teen Awards, which grants $1,500 scholarships to 20 high school football players submitting the most impressive videos, in partnership with Subway.

Lynch is part owner of the presently dormant Oakland Panthers indoor football team. He has attended City Hall meetings to plead for the city to do whatever it can to keep the A’s. He has hosted block parties and group bike rides, and food giveaways at his soul food restaurant, Rob Ben’s.

He bought that place in 2017 when the longtime owner, Cassie Nickelson, retired. And like all of Lynch’s business deals, it was more than a business deal.

“Miss Cassie, she had a restaurant out of a garage-type space, and she would give kids free hamburgers and fries on their birthday,” Lynch said. “And I got word of that and I went there on my seventh birthday and she gave me a hamburger and fries, so she held true to her word.”

Lynch bought the restaurant and the building, renamed the place after a beloved older cousin who was fatally shot in Oakland in 2007, and put several family members to work keeping the local institution alive.

Where did that community spirit come from?

“My mom, for sure,” Lynch said, weaving and bobbing around the edges of the screen as he talked. He said his mother worked three jobs to support her four kids, and also looked out for other relatives.

“Like if I had a family member who was doing bad at the time, my mom would never turn a blind eye to ’em, regardless of whatever state they was in. ”

In high school, Marshawn’s pals were part of his family, and his mom was the event coordinator.

“Might be to the bowling alley, might be to the fair, she goin’ pile ’em in, we might be eight, nine, 10 deep in a car going to the fair, just to run around, ’cuz nobody got no money to do nothin’, but we was all together, we was having fun.”
Back then, Lynch said, he had an important support group.

“We had a lot of OGs who get down and do their thing,” Lynch said, “I’m not going to get into too much detail, but the thing was … they would tell you, ‘Hey, little blood, you ain’t goin’ be like this when you get older. You gonna do something different than what I’m doing.’”

Lynch said he convinced the street gamblers to bet on his high school team, rather than against it, then they cut him in on their winnings. That got him thinking he might have a rosy future in their lucrative business, but they had a better plan for him.

“But them constantly in your ear, they really mighta had the mind-set, ‘You could really do something differently than what we all doing, and be successful, without the heartache and headache of what we actually go through.’”

Maybe they knew they were mentoring a community treasure. Lynch got the picture. Instead of the easy way, he took a different route, and it led right back to the heart of The Town.

“You stay solid, big dog,” he said, then danced off the screen.

Homeless hotels closing in Alameda County amid COVID-19 surge

Alameda County closing homeless hotels as COVID-19 cases soar
KTVU investigative reporter Brooks Jarosz looks at the efforts of homeless advocates to find hundreds of people a permanent place to call home.

OAKLAND, Calif. – As cases of the coronavirus explode in California, Alameda County is closing several hotels that are being used to keep hundreds of homeless people off the streets.

The moves comes amid criticism from homeless advocates and some government leaders. But the county cites high costs, a limited budget, and a shift in focus to find permanent places for the unsheltered to call home.

Nine hotels have welcomed 1,500 people once homeless and has included rooms, showers, three meals daily, laundry and other services.

“It’s a blessing to be here because the weather’s changing and getting cold,” one woman being housed at the Radisson in East Oakland said. “You don’t want to be out there back on the streets.”

But Alameda County will close at least five hotels in the coming months, including the Quality Inn in Berkeley, which will shutdown next week.

Only a few of the hotels will keep their doors open to those experiencing homelessness in 2021, according to the county. And that too will be short lived. Three are set to close in January and another two hotels in February, as state and federal funding runs out.

The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) announced Friday it will permanently fund the state’s Project Roomkey, reimbursing counties for 75% of the cost during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. But it’s not stopping Alameda County from transitioning away from hotels to alternative solutions.

“The fact the county is shutting down the hotel program that is keeping people off the street is unacceptable,” said Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. “It is more dangerous now than when that hotel program started.”

The county did just reopen the former Comfort Inn near the Oakland Airport, which it bought and renovated. It’s being used to isolate and quarantine those infected with COVID-19, as cases rise.

Data from Alameda County shows more than 200 people on the street have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

At last check, there were more than 8,000 unhoused in Alameda County, however, that doesn’t account for those displaced because of the pandemic.

Even with the hotel closures, County Director of Homeless Care and Coordination Kerry Abbott said the county is working to find long-term housing for the 1,200 people currently in hotels.

“As we are contemplating transitioning out of hotels, we are adding housing units at the same rate,” she said.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the county said 161 people have left the hotel program and now have a permanent home. Another 87 were placed at temporary destinations, and 44 left the program for unknown reasons.

Alameda County is trying to increase the number of housing exits every week in hopes of getting 30 to 50 people immediate long-term housing solutions.

At that pace, the county is hoping to avoid running out of money that has come along with the costly hotel program.

“We do not have stimulus funding going into 2021,” Abbott said. “Maintaining that model costs significantly more than permanent housing.”

The new focus is more piecemealed with scattered housing sites, shelters or subsidies for rentals available.

The hardest hurdle for many counties and cities is locating and developing alternative housing sites. The City of Oakland bought Clifton Hall at the California College of the Arts in Rockridge, which will soon open as affordable housing for families and seniors.

“You can’t protect anybody, if you’re not protecting everybody. We need to keep people off the streets.”
— Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At Large
“You can’t protect anybody, if you’re not protecting everybody,” Kaplan said. “We need to keep people off the streets.”

With unsafe, unclean and unhealthy conditions on the streets, homeless advocates have been running similar hotel programs to house a vulnerable population.

The Village, directed by Needa Bee of Oakland, raised more than $300,000 from residents to assist in the endeavor. Those with pre-existing conditions, the elderly and those with children are being housed with efforts to find permanent placements.

“If people can’t see it’s our job to take care of each other, then those folks have lost touch with their own humanity,” she said.

Bee said the pandemic has exposed the inequalities surrounding housing access and considers the affordable housing a public health measure.

But financial restraints have made things difficult even for groups like The Village, too. The group has vowed to make sure everyone has a safe place before ousting anyone from hotel rooms.

“I think wherever there’s a will there’s a way,” Bee said. “I think there’s a way to make this happen.”

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at brooks.jarosz@foxtv.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @BrooksKTVU

West Oakland food desert blooms with a single produce market

By Rob RothPublished 2 days agoOaklandKTVU FOX 2 West Oakland’s food desert blooms with single produce market The opening of a community-oriented grocery store in West Oakland was the first time in 50 years that a market selling fresh fruits and vegetables had opened in the neighborhood. For most people living in West Oakland, the Community Foods …
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Oakland’s Food Divide

In the flatlands, where the median household income is $32,000, there’s an average of one supermarket per 93,126 residents, according to a 2009 report by the Hope Collaborative, an Oakland-based organization focusing on environmental health and food policy issues. The same report found that in the Oakland Hills, where the median household income is over …
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