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AU’s Antiracism Center Hosts “Nourishing Black Futures” Event

Panelists discuss how to set an antiracist agenda on food justice and Black maternal health.

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What does food justice have to do with achieving maternal health equity in the United States? What is the history of food injustice in our nation? Why are food justice and maternal health justice both necessary to help Black mothers and families thrive? And how can we shift resources and power to Black women to begin to correct these injustices?

Approximately 250 people came together virtually with American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center (ARPC) for a panel discussion with an impressive group of scholars and activists on how we nourish Black futures through food and maternal health justice. Panelists discussed the state of Black maternal health in the United States, the role of food systems and environments in shaping Black maternal health, and what an antiracist approach to food justice would need to look like to sustain Black mothers and families.

Panelists including Michele Goodwin, Chancellor's Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine; Ebony Marcelle, Director of Midwifery at Community of Hope; Ashanté Reese, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin; and Beverley Wheeler, Director, DC Hunger Solutions. American University’s Assistant Professor Jessica Owens-Young moderated the discussion.

Nourishing Black Futures

What does food justice have to do with achieving maternal health equity in the US? Why are food justice and maternal health justice both necessary to help Black mothers and families thrive?

Power in the Panel

Owens-Young said that the panel was a great success for many reasons, but especially in terms of creating a space for Black women working across different issues to come together and talk and share their personal perspectives, experiences, and areas of expertise.

“There was power in the panel, and I think we demonstrated a model for future panels. I also appreciated the holistic perspectives from all of the panelists, centering the importance of history to contemporary issues,” she explains. “I think history gets lost in conversations about where we go from here in terms of justice work, but understanding history is necessary to dismantling racist structures. Lastly, I think the emphasis on antiracism as an ongoing process, rather than a destination, was key in today’s conversation.”

Upcoming Events

The ARPC has a full calendar of events throughout the month of October. All events are free and open to the American University community and the public. Please register in advance.

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amidst the Clash of Empires

October 20, 2020 | 1-2 p.m. EDT
Book talk by author Prof. Juan Cole (University of Michigan) cosponsored by the Mohamed S. Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace, Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Department, and ARPC. 

Interrogating Normativity: A Conversation on Disability and Racial Justice

October 21 | 1 p.m. EDT
With Professor Sami Schalk (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Cosponsored by AU Student Government's Women's Initiative and ARPC. 

SIS Global to Local: Climate Justice

October 22 | 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EDT
Panel featuring NAACP's Jacqui Patterson, Union of Concerned Scientists’ Dr. Adrienne Hollis, Ward 6 ANC Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton, and cofounder of WEACT (Harlem) Vernice Miller-Travi. Cosponsored by SIS, AU Sustainability, and ARPC. 

The Palestinian Exception to Calls for Social Justice

October 29 | 7 p.m. EDT
With Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi (SF State) and ARPC affiliate Prof. Irene Calis. Cosponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, CRGC, Sociology, and other student orgs. 

A Conversation with Ijeoma Oluo, author of the forthcoming book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

October 30 | 12:15 - 1:15 p.m. EDT
Cosponsored by SIS and ARPC.