Seeds of the Diaspora: Using creative writing to explore critical food literacies with Black youth
- OreOluwa Badaki
- Graduate School of Education
OreOluwa Badaki started The Food Justice Writing Group, an intergenerational and arts-based collective, as part of her dissertation fieldwork at Sankofa Community farm, where she’s been for almost 4 years now. The term Sankofa means to “go back and get it”, it originates from the Akan people of Ghana. Sankofa farm centers farming practices and crops indigenous to the African continent. Sankofa has a summer and annual youth internship program that prepares young people to be conscious food consumers and producers, as well as stewards of the land. OreOluwa noticed a desire among some of the youth interns for a more concerted space to engage creativity and imagination in their food justice work. Out of this desired launched the The Food Justice Writing Group, whose goals are to:
- Archive and re-imagine culinary, agricultural, activism, and storytelling traditions from around the world
- Center the experiences of marginalized communities disproportionately harmed by unjust food systems
- Engage various genres and modalities of writing and storytelling
With this grant, The Food Justice Writing Group is embarking on their first collaborative piece: an Afrofuturist, speculative fiction screenplay that centers on the history and relevance of Okra in contemporary Black foodways. This will be an opportunity for youth to activate their creativity, criticality, and citizenship as they help to archive and preserve stories and experiences important to African foodways. Engaging youth in “land as pedagogy” (Simpson, 2014) initiatives offers the opportunity to expose them to the socio-historical and socio-political forces at play with issues of land and food. Many young people had been with the Sankofa internship program for years when the pandemic hit. This will be an opportunity for them to return back to the land, to imagine futures and worlds that help to build resilience, and to leave a legacy for those who come after them to take up.