Privilege, Power, and Race in the Local Food System
Food movements in Vancouver and across BC are beginning to get past the awkward dance we typically do around naming and addressing race, power, privilege, and oppression in our work. The understanding that food systems and efforts to create change within them are still benefitting and governed by those with racial and other forms of privilege is permeating the movement.
This can be attributed to many colliding efforts such as the rise of reconciliation and Indigenous food sovereignty voices thanks to the decade of work by the Working Group on Indigenous Sovereignty, as well as that of the hua foundation calling attention to discriminatory food policies in Chinatown – two of many examples.
Coming to terms with these realities can be a vulnerable, uncomfortable, and confusing process for people with white and light-skinned privilege who, while likely holding strong social justice values, are confronted with the role their privilege unintentionally plays in reinforcing the marginalization of others.
Recognizing this emerging dynamic in our movement, the Vancouver Food Policy Council, hua foundation, and Kamloops Food Policy Council have partnered to bring together two customized workshops during the upcoming Vancouver Food Summit to hold a supportive learning space for these conversations.
Panels at the 2016 and 2017 Vancouver Food Summits and follow-up Vancouver Food Conversations explored key questions including ‘Why is green so white?’ And, ‘What’s up with the ethnic aisle?’ setting the foundation for this more immersive workshop style experience as part of this year’s summit.
The project is to conduct pre and post interviews with participants who will be going through a series of workshops in the ‘Unpacking White Privilege in the Food System’ series happening in the fall 2018. There may also be opportunity to participate in the workshops themselves. This will be critical work as we seek to learn from this experimental pilot with hopes of integrating this kind of work into the hua foundation more long term as well as sharing lessons learned with others interested in bringing white privilege learning into their organizations.
The goals are that a) learnings from the workshops can begin to impact the conversations and work of key organizations moving forward, b) participants will leave with a deepened sense of relationship among one another and ability to continue to hold conversations about race and white privilege with peers in a supportive way, c) the Vancouver Food Policy Council will have an extended network of connections with the Kamloops Food Policy Council and the hua foundation.
This fits into broader Reconciliation and food justice goals of the VFPC as well as ongoing racial equity work of the hua foundation
Skills Preferred + To Be Developed
- Strong interview/qualitative research skills
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Good writing skills
- Critical thinking and analysis
Preferred Days of Week and Hours
Variable depending on interviewee schedules and supporting work.
Variable locations depending on interviewees - check in meetings to occur in Chinatown.
Project / partner orientation
- Readings to be sent out, including readings on the local/regional food system on this topic.
- Initial meeting with Kevin Huang (and possibly Zsuzsi Fodor), September 19
- UBC panel discussion: Examining Whiteness: What’s at Stake for Canada?
- Guthman, J. (2011). ‘If they only knew’: The unbearable whiteness of alternative food. In Alkon, A.H. & Agyeman, J. (Eds.), Cultivating food justice: Race, class, and sustainability (pp. 263-282). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Related Community Service Opportunities for Students
Potential opportunities to participate in hua foundation’s affiliated racial equity events, workshops, projects. This project is the first test to address a long standing, embedded, issue in our food system and there are multiple separate, yet related, strategies to address this.
- As organizers, we recognize that BIPOC often bear a heavier burden in conversations on whiteness and white supremacy. As such, certain conversations and spaces in this project will be facilitated by, and are intended specifically/only for, persons identifying as white or having light-skinned privilege.
- Due to the nature of this project in identifying and exploring aspects of power, privilege, and race, it is recommended for students who have done (and/or are prepared to do) some introspective work around their own identity and social position
Mission + Vision
- Our mission is to empower youth in the Asian diaspora to fully participate in advancing social change through exploring our racialized identities and building resilience in communities.
- Our vision is a world where every person is empowered to shape their environment for the better.
Guiding Principles + Values:
Our values are:
- Healthy, sustainable planet
- Integrity & Honesty
- Contact Person(s): Kevin Huang
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address: 418 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6A 1P7
- Phone: 604-868-2001
- Website: huafoundation.org
- Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email
- I hope students will learn about how white privilege plays out in the food movement.
- I think students will come to appreciate that this work is not just about ‘just and sustainable food systems’ but a much deeper decolonizing and racial equity approach to how we organize around doing the work.
- Students will develop a critical lens with which to interrogate how organizations and movements form in the context of white supremacy.
- Deeper understanding of how the workshops have the potential to shift people’s view of their white privilege.
- Preliminary understanding of where there can be systemic and organizational shifts.
- Ways to change this type of offering moving forward.