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Undoing Racism in the Detroit Food System – 2 Day Training

Last year I attended the first Undoing Racism 2 Day Training and found it very transformative. I’m pleased to share that another 2 Day Training is being offered this year. Seating is limited. ~G

Undoing Racism in the Detroit Food System
Two Day Training April 30 & May 1

Detroit is rich with community, deep with history, and full with resources that reveal a narrative, our story, that stands in opposition to the politics of the day. Behind the census numbers and the media whitewash, is a Detroit where families and communities are collaborating to create sustainable infrastructures that reflect our mutual needs and unearth and lift up our “invisible capital.” Through urban agriculture and the good food movement, everyday Detroiters are reshaping the way we see food, ourselves and our communities. Each year we see more community gardens, small production farms, hoop houses to extend the growing season, mobile produce markets and home-kitchen products going to market. More people are connecting to the importance of and power within food.

This power, while holding great potential for families and communities, is threatened by institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Even as more people reconnect to their food, we witness inequity on the rise as access to good food is turned into a trend dominated by new, predominantly white Detroiters who rarely recognize or respect existing history and culture. The opportunities afforded Detroit through urban agriculture and good food have been co-opted to market the city as a place for people who are deemed more creative and economically viable than the majority of the population. Entrepreneurial and economic opportunities within the food system are often given to these so-called innovators, who don’t have roots, are not accountable to others, and stifle equitable growth.

While at the global and national levels our food security is threatened by genetically modified seeds and chemical laden processed foods, at the local level we are also threatened by corporate land grabs made in the name of philanthropy and an emergency manager law recently passed by the State government that can be used to control not only our schools, but also one of the most vital aspects of food security, our water system. These issues connect to and affect our community food security and are all intricately linked to race, class and power.

These struggles and this co-opting within the food movement, reflect historical struggles in Detroit. There are political and cultural forces at play that are not only committed to keeping the status quo, but also to perpetuating the expansion of corporate/private control of every facet of our city and our lives. As we witness the city offering incentives for corporate employees to move into some neighborhoods while they cut services to others we are witness to racism and white privilege being leveraged to cut off communities from freedom, justice and equality. In the face of this oppression we must work diligently so that all people are respected and valued and that Detroit’s African American, Latino, American Indian, Arab American and Asian communities are lifted up. Truly sustainable systems demand racial equity.

One year ago, a group of individuals and organizations committed to food justice offered a two day Undoing Racism in the Detroit Food System workshop. This training offered by The People’s Institute nourished the seeds sewn by the open discussions on race facilitated by Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit at their yearly conference. Since this training, monthly gatherings have continued the discussion and caucuses and study groups have held space to support the process of undoing. In August of 2010, Detroit hosted the US Social Forum, which offered the opportunity for many individuals and organizations that support the work of Undoing Racism in Detroit to connect more deeply with one another and national and global movements.

Upon this history, and in the face of the current state of Detroit, we are convening our second two-day Undoing Racism in the Detroit Food System training on April 30 & May 1, 2011 at the MSU Center, 3408 Woodward.  All those working in the food system are invited to participate. This training will be facilitated by a Detroit-based team led by Adrienne Maree Brown, an organizational healer, trainer, Detroit US Social Forum national co-coordinator, and a facilitator for the Detroit Food Justice Task Force and the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition.

Space is limited to 45 people. To register please return the application (pdf) before April 22 – Thank You!

The Undoing Racism in Detroit’s Food System Training will take place on Saturday April 30, 9:30am-5pm and Sunday May 1  from 9:30am to 1:30pm at MSU Center, 3408 Woodward,  Detroit.  The cost of registration is $75 for two days and includes lunch both days.  While we recognize the difficulty of attending for both days, it is important to the process that those participating must attend both sessions.  Scholarships are available, and are first-come, first-served and limited.  Please also note that space at the workshop is limited to 45 people.  All applications must be received by April 22.  Priority will be given to those who live or work in Detroit, or have participated in the monthly Undoing Racism large group sessions. Please print the pdf and mail. Thank You!

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1 Erich { 04.28.11 at 3:21 am }

Are white people allowed to come? By the tone of the article/announcement you seem to take issue with “white people” being involved in the city.

2 Gregg Newsom { 04.28.11 at 11:30 am }

At the conference last year we had about half black and half white. It was an awesome event.

For me, as a white guy, it is less about taking issue with “white people being involved in the city” as it is with respectful interaction with the people who are already here. I’ll lift up some of my sentiment from another post:

“However, my frustration is tempered in the knowledge that Detroit isn’t a blank canvas, Detroit is a deep crossroads thick with souls in all states of being. Respectfully and as I am able, I perceive this as an indigenous energy. Something specific to this geographic location on the planet. I posit that it is this energy that encourages Detroiters lean towards innovation and creativity. It is also leads me to think that the lack of awareness of this energy, these souls and the people around us, which is fostered by Detroit Works and the marketing of the city, distorts this creative energy and actually puts it in the service of continued oppression.”

3 anonymous { 06.21.11 at 2:45 pm }

“This power, while holding great potential for families and communities, is threatened by institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Even as more people reconnect to their food, we witness inequity on the rise as access to good food is turned into a trend dominated by new, predominantly white Detroiters who rarely recognize or respect existing history and culture”

White supremacy? White supremacy? Really, Gregg? In your effort to be respectful and inclusive, your own personal elitism and self-righteousness show how exclusive you actually are. You know you are one of these loathed white detroit urban farmers, yet you think you can place yourself above these others by criticizing them and spewing your divisive rhetoric.

Do you really think that with this region’s unbelievable racial segregation and racial conflict, the people most worthy of your scorn are the young, white kids who refuse to accept their parents’ idiotic notion of this city and move inside the limits to try to make it better?

I’d like to see you meet some real white supremacists. It would be a hoot to hear you explain your spineless social justice gobbledygook (like what’s in this post and throughout your blog) to them. You’d get a good kick in your shriveled hippie nuts, I’m sure, rather than pats on the back from a bunch of self-flagellating, self-hating overeducated hippie shitbirds.

You’re part of the problem you’ve identified as a problem, Gregg. So is your wife. And your kid. Acting like you’re above it all doesn’t actually make you above it. It just makes you an asshole.

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