Connecting to Black History Through Food in America
Through celebrations like Juneteenth and documentaries like ‘High on the Hog’ it is now easier for us to know the impact of our food in this country.
“Looking at your food is looking at your heritage,” says Jordan Wimby, the creator of The Melanin Martha. The platform’s goal is to heal generational trauma through food as well as use food as a way to connect to our ancestors. When we think about food Black Americas eat, soul food oftentimes comes to mind. Collard greens, yams, mac and cheese, fried chicken, etc. Some of us embrace soul food but others often look at it as slave food. “Slave food” to them is food that should not be consumed because it is the scraps that the slave masters fed to the ancestors. It’s the food that was too gross to be fed to white folks. But as we know, Black people are the most resilient people to ever live. Our ancestors made the best of what they had with the food that was given to them. Many of the soul food dishes that we consume today have a rich history going back to the slave trade. For example, fried chicken was brought over from Europe but the slaves preparing the food had transformed the original recipe to make a delicious cuisine. Netflix’s High on the Hog does an excellent job of showing the origins of African-American cuisine by tracing its through lines from Africa to Texas.
Black History is American history. Our work is essential to the development of this country. There would be no American history without Black history. For many Black Americans our history has been stripped from us. We don’t know our ancestors past a certain generation and a lot of Black history must be self taught since it is not taught in the American school system. As a way to connect to our food and ancestors we can appreciate the food we eat and the history behind it. Our food is a reminder of how Black people make everything better despite any circumstance. Kale is not healthier than collard greens. There is anti-Blackness in everything including the food space but it is important we focus on the history and adaptation of Black food in America.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Oreos give some background on the holiday and discuss how they celebrated (or didn’t celebrate) growing up. The Melanin Martha aka Jordan Wimby joins the show to talk about her platform that is dedicated to healing generational trauma by reconnecting with our ancestors and history through food. Jordan explains why it’s important for us to appreciate the food we eat and how to stop the anti-Blackness in the food world. She touches on historical points in Netflix’s High on the Hog, how our ancestors gained power in cooking and why “soul food” isn’t less healthy than food mostly consumed by white people.
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