On Friday October 29, 2010, I attended the Food, Faith, and Health Disparities Summit. The ambiance was very vivacious and I felt welcomed and strangely happy despite my difficulties in locating the entrance of the church. I was almost willing to allow jealousy to debase me as I bottled the Ivy League scent of 116th Street taking my dreams to reality.
The purpose of the event was to address the environmental and food injustices that plague our city and impede it from realizing its true equitable potential. We were there to not only realize the racial and economic disparities in health care (and, by extension, our food system), but we were there to elicit change – to empower ourselves with the ammunition of knowledge to change the system in solidarity with disadvantaged New Yorkers.
Every eloquent speaker further equipped us with the tools we needed to collectively dismantle New York City’s incompetent food system that is allegedly “subsidizing diabetes.” The minister invoked the fundamental principles of the Summit by praying for “the dismantling of the unjust societies that we enjoy which lead to the marginalization of poor people in economically disadvantaged communities.” The singer employed the egalitarian theme of the summit in songs that denounce environmental, economical, racial, and social inequities that results in the unequal stratification of wealth, power, and access to healthy affordable food.
There was also a dynamic spoken word by Christopher Cero about building a just city in which we work in solidarity to build a food system that is healthy, accessible, and affordable. Cero says that this is the standard by NYC’s brilliance and magnificence will be evaluated. This spoken word entitled “Just a City” was a remarkable transition for the intuitive oration on food inequality in NYC by the former pastor of The Riverside Church in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
This summit served to unite people that are forced to dance with food inequality by economic disadvantages and people protected from marginalization by food security.
Lila Watson said, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.” The inherent inequalities in NYC’s food system cannot be fixed by people who are not connected with the significance of ensuring food justice. I do not wish to deter anyone from drafting legislation to help the people marginalized by all sorts of inequality, but if there is not solidarity amongst the “haves and have nots” attempting to elicit change then the food justice movement might be in vain.