Response to Food Justice course
Ruby Olisemeka, Citywide Certificate Student, February 2017
The goal of our work is to bring about a transformation in the food system – it entails liberating/transforming the consciousness of the oppressed, whom in turn will liberate/transform the oppressor. Educator Paulo Freir teaches that transformation happens via a two-step process, through critical awareness (the unveiling of the world of oppression) and praxis (reflection and action) – a process we call the popular education style of learning. This learning style puts the student at the center of the process and involves their whole being – doing, hearing, reading, seeing, talking and teaching. These 2 steps bring about the transformational shift in consciousness - a shift in our ideas, attitudes and behavior patterns, needed to dismantle oppressive systems.
How does Farmer Yonnette Fleming (Farmer Yon) cause a transformation/shift in the consciousness of her students in 4 weeks - the equivalent of 32 class hours? How does she cause a shift in our ideas, attitudes and behavior patterns so we are powered to be liberators in our communities? It’s an alchemy that can’t ever be fully described just approximated.
She brings about critical awareness through a rigorous study of well vetted and authentic intellectual work on food justice, and sovereignty taught to us in the popular education style. Famer Yon then goes beyond the limits of the popular education style, this is where the magic of the course lies. As progressive as the popular education style is, it is limited to the physical being. Farmer Yon acknowledges a sovereign idea, an idea antithetical to the Western construct of life; humans are more than just physical beings. WE are imbued with spirit; liberation must occur on multiple spheres of the human- physical, mental, spiritual.
Students engage in movement work, in spiritual work drawn from indigenous techniques. The healing and transformation is deep and lasting. Emerging from this class are close to 30 powerful voices that have begun to put their ideas into action, all with the same goal of dismantling oppression and transforming the food system. Ase.