I'm continuing to write out my thoughts as I read through An American Lent - The Repentance Project.
They didn't slow it down... this week covered the orphan/foster needs in the US; the disparity between how the heroin epidemic is being handled now, compared to how crack cocaine was handled in the 80s/90s and the link to the color of the skin of people trapped in drug abuse. They offered W.E.B. Du Bois perspective on the two souls present within a black man - struggling to reconcile their humanity with the way they are treated. How white American's "dim sense of their ancestry" makes them less aware/sympathetic to how black Americans have had their ancestry ripped from them (that rings true of me - I don't have a great allegiance to my ancestry, so I'm not actively aware that others have had that torn away, and what that does to a person).
I was literally sitting down with my mini-bell peppers and hummus when I opened yesterday's reading about the nutrition disparities between white and black families.
Calories are cheap and nutrients are expensive and, unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than junk food and less accessible in many predominantly Black communities.
The stones of slavery linger in our mouths as a legacy through our cuisine, our agriculture, our food distribution, and health care systems.
I spent some time thinking through the questions, particularly "given that we no longer live in an agrarian society and can't give away food from our fields to those who hunger, what should we do?"
Here are some answers I came up with:
- look at our food budget, as is, and then cutting it by X% and **actually spending less** and giving the difference to a food pantry. Rather than just giving money from the part of our budget we use for donations/tithing/giving, **actually spending less on food** to have a slight sense of deprivation
- set up a recurring financial donation to a food bank
- commit to a regular in-person donation of food with my family (more challenging logistically, but a better way to keep things in perspective than an auto-draft from our bank account). I also struggle with not wanting my children to get the wrong view of giving in terms of "look at us, aren't we generous" - not sure how to talk about this, and involve them in the giving, without creating an us/them
- when a family in our church or neighborhood has a baby, we try to make a meal for them (been better at this in the past than recent history). My idea is to make another meal at the same time, and give it to another family, one who doesn't have the same resources for food that we do. Problem is, as far as I'm aware, I don't really know a lot of families who are struggling to put healthy food on their tables <--- that is very telling.
- support organizations/restaurants that do practice some element of the gleaning philosophy (like Pret a Manger) (although 2 questions: if I buy a sandwich from them, isn't it one less that they give away? (half kidding) and then seriously - what do all these other places do with their leftover food at the end of the day??)
What ideas did you all come up with?
And today's reading on the Racial wealth gap hit me in the stomach - I know I have benefited greatly from my parents and grandparents. While none of them were rich, my parents and grandparents were paid for their work, able to purchase property (the men in my family), save money in a bank. They didn't have centuries of trauma and abuse impacting their ability to function. This allowed them to accumulate wealth, that has snowballed to push me into a very comfortable life and all that it affords: living in a "safe" neighborhood, not having to worry about putting [nutritious] food on the table.
My husband and I have tried to give to some black-focused organizations. But I will be honest that between the pace of life, perceived/real financial challenges in our lives at this point, we have not been faithful to maintaining the commitment. And I'm not sure if it ever came specifically from the intent to share some of our generations of accumulated wealth with people from who it was robbed. I think there's something to say about intent (if it was just our general giving, vice sharing accumulated wealth with people who didn't have that opportunity.) I am struggling with all the conflicts of white guilt, defensiveness, etc. Not sure this forum is the best place to process it, but I'm committed to talking with Andy about it. I remember scanning The Case for Reparations when it came out, but I am going to sit down and read it in its entirety now.
TBC next week!