Sunday, March 25, 2018

Food Justice // Botox

Today was a study in contrasts.

The first half of my day was energizing and inspiring: I attended the 2018 Just Food Conference in upper Manhattan. It pumps me up to see and hear from people who are passionate and action-oriented. I especially loved the AM Plenary session, where a panel of 100% female/nonbinary and mostly (if not all) people of color shared their perspectives on how to "Feed the Resistance."

AM Plenary panel

My favorite breakout session was an anti-racism workshop I attended. Designed for white people, the workshop addressed implicit bias, privilege, and spheres of influence/power. I realized for the first time that I wear my own privilege with an oxymoronic heaviness. In reality, by nature, it should be light: making my life easier, opening doors. But my awareness of it makes it feel heavy: a sense of obligation, of responsibility: to do my best to level the playing field for others who were born into less privilege than me.

At the end of the sessions, we paired up to discuss personal commitments to fighting racism. I told my partner I've been reading more novels by people of color (aka POC), especially black writers. I just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and am almost through Americanah. Both really immersive, thought-provoking reads. Last week I happened to watch the 2004 film Crash, another piece of media that has me thinking a lot about racism. Other things I can do better include diversifying my circle of friends (easier said than done) and including more POC voices in my own writing/stories.

session on food sovereignty (a very difficult word to spell)

Other things I liked about the conference: emphasis on community and collaboration, on dismantling patriarchy, on being open and respectful, on speaking your own truth, on taking action and getting comfortable with discomfort.

I also liked that the breakfast was delicious

and the whole conference was zero-waste (or close to it)!

I walked away feeling empowered and hopeful.

I left the conference and walked into a new friend's living room — a WASPy room that depleted my newly refreshed social justice energy. I met this woman through a mutual friend, and she invited me to a women's hang-out that she regularly hosts in her home. I know all conversations can't be about philosophy or policy, but I have a distinctly low tolerance for multi-hour conversations with a range restricted to topics like fashion, cats, celebrities, and Botox. These are the actual topics that were discussed. Despite the fact that every woman in the room was still in her twenties, more than one of them has gotten Botox and others discussed their plans to.

I may be only 25, but it's really hard for me to relate to that life decision. I can talk about cats for a little while, and I'm interested if you have something new to say about fashion, but I have zero interest in discussing the lives of famous performers or where to go for the best Botox experience.

As I nibbled cheese and crackers and sipped rosé with the Botox ladies, conference attendees were mingling and networking in the post-conference reception — where I should have been.

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