Many of you are already aware of my open letter to the food community regarding my disinvitation from TEDx Manhattan and why I felt it was problematic. In my letter I addressed the intersections of race, class, privilege and positional power. The dialogue that took place after was tremendous, hard and necessary. However, the letter was not just about venting or blaming, it was about moving forward and creating solutions in the face of obstacles. In that spirit The BLK Projek decided to do a series of "Tanya Talks" (I'm TED's sassy, black cousin lol) along with, art, music, film and food.
Saturday, February 16th from 10am - 5pm join us at Bronx institution The Point CDC.
Glynwood Organization and TEDx Manhattan have issued an apology and we a joint statement. I have been overwhelmed with the responses, love, support and the honest, hard discussions that presented themselves here. When Karen, with no input from me decided to withdraw and stand in solidarity I was blown away and I think Glynwood was as well. It was a small but important opportunity to really discuss these themes that have come up time and time again regarding class, race and power in doing this work. The leadership at the Glynwood Organization (the overarching organization for the Glynwood Institute) stepped up as well. With the leadership and feedback of LaDonna Redmond we were able to have a REAL, HONEST, HARD conversation about this incidence and the work that needs to come out of it. We were invited back to speak. We made the decision not to, Karen and I made that decision TOGETHER. We also made the decision to engage from a space of understanding, compassion and reconciliation. The work we do in our communities can be traumatic but really facing your privilege can be messy and murky as well. I am pleased that Glynwood is stepping up to take the steps to confront that, to move forward in having a deeper understanding of the many themes that played out in the COMFOOD listserve and the larger community. We will still be having our event on February 16th which we will be live streaming on the web. Karen will be our fabulous keynote speaker and Kathleen Frith ED of Glynwood Organization (not Glynwood Insitute) will be making an appearance to have this very conversation with our folks. My hope is that this passion, momentum and enthusiasm will continue to be harnessed to do our work in our communities and continue to see those communities as the best resources we have. That we continue to nurture each other, validate our own narratives and find ways in which to do them that casts off the burden of doing things "in opposition to" rather than "inspired by".
This has been an amazing learning experience for me. Our words and actions have power, learning to move forward and on a personal level coming to understand that "I and we are enough", always. It has been a lesson in humility and understanding and in love. My great love for the people who do this work and love their communities. I want to personally thank LaDonna and Karen and Beatriz and my mentor for the support they offered to me and for their love of the work we all CHOOSE to do. I want to thank everyone here who chose to have this conversation no matter what their opinions were. Healing comes with facing those uncomfortable truths, stepping outside of our own realities and understanding that our own realities aren't universal. I appreciate Kathleen's willingness to do that when the larger community called for accountability.
Today, we release a joint statement and continue those conversations and I look forward to continuing to build in my community at home and the larger food community here. Here is that statement: Read More
To The Food Justice Community:
We have embarked upon a new year of opportunities, of hope, of love and also of struggles, obstacles and conflict. I write this letter to make sense of a recent experience of disappointment and I share it because I believe it can be instructive for those of us who care about building a strong and inclusive food justice movement. This story provides a lesson about unaccountable power and privilege within the food movement, and how it perpetuates divides. Writing this story allows me to vent and move on. Most importantly, it is my hope that sharing this story will enable me to co-create with you a new and better “ending” that builds our collective power.
Let me cut to the chase. I was abruptly disinvited from being a featured speaker at the TEDxManhattan Changing the Way We Eat conference coming up in February. The reason given was that I had not yet received my non-profit status and the Glynwood Instittue for Sustainable Food and Farming, which “curates” the conference, could not be sure that I had a track record to back me up. Of course, I had already provided references and other information as part of my application, and there was never any mention of non-profit status as a criteria for eligibility. I heard from another speaker that I may have been disinvited based on little more than someone bad-mouthing me (why do we tear each other down!), perhaps they said I’m contentious or make people uncomfortable. Did the Glynwood Institute not bother to check my references the first time around? Did they not do their due diligence before inviting me? The BLK ProjeK is a work in progress, but we’ve accomplished a lot. A big non-profit organization like the Glynwood Institute can choose to not to associate with my little pro-Black, womanist, speak-truth-to-power organization. That’s their prerogative. However, they should have done their due diligence before they offered me the invitation to speak.