When I take a couple of steps back, I am in awe of what we accomplished. In July 2017, a group of Black Buddhists, Quakers and Unitarian Universalists -- forming an African Diaspora Earthcare Coalition -- held space for Black organizers, cooks and growers to chip away at this question:
What would it take to mount a concerted move toward re-localization of food production and sovereignty among marginalized people of African descent as climate disruptions become the norm?
What would it take to feed all the Black people in the world and make sure they had access to clean water?
My work, beneath the phone calls and strategy, was the work of interrogating my various privileges. Although we were all Black and although I am a queer, southern woman, I felt my USAmerican identity, more than anything, attempting to weigh me down consistently. The thoughts that were bubbling up only functioned to keep me disconnected and too afraid to listen. It would have been crippling if I had only let it occupy more space. In Kenya, the Red Cross is responsible for feeding whole villages. I thought, at first, “how horrible!” From there, my brain quickly raced into a mess of an analysis about global aid. Luckily, I caught myself in time to name the feelings coming up for me before the call ended, but it would take me days to process what exactly happened. It wasn’t that the analysis was bad; it was that it wasn’t helpful. Factually, there was some truth in what I believe global aid organizations to be, but those facts didn’t help me listen to someone who had gifted me with precious stories about her community.
I tried my best to carry that lesson through the rest of our phone calls and into our event during the UN High-Level Policy Forum. I was asked to listen again the day before our event. We gathered at Pamela Boyce-Simms' house to go over the agenda. It was overwhelming and invigorating at the same time. All of a sudden, we were meeting each other, making last minute changes and tired- all at the same time. I took it as an opportunity to listen to the brilliance in the room that appeared in words and in between them. When the day came, we made quick adjustments, practiced our best hospitality skills and improvised often. Not everything that we intended for happened. We didn’t figure out the perfect solution for feeding all the Black folks in the diaspora. But we created a space to listen to one another. We made room for possible solutions, stories and critiques. If we believe that we have everything we need, then it is our task to make space for continued listening and iterative stories.
Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of Pamela Boyce-Simms (Quaker Earthcare Witness):
Sara Green, M.Div, is a Unitarian Universalist minister from New Orleans who understands her call to be a praxis of radical hospitality and embodiment in service of freedom and justice. In addition to creating liturgies, she works with improvisational movement, plant medicine and food to foster abundance within our communities. Sara currently she serves as Intern Minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, TN.
Sara is convener of the Diaspora Earthcare Coalition Land Circle