Songs for Social Justice: Bullets for breakfast and mass murder meals. Enemy of the state, and your plate is the battlefield

On my regular ol’ blog, I post often about music. I apply music to life and think of it as making up a soundtrack to my own life and the world’s consciousness. It would seem strange if I didn’t carry the music over to this blog, so once in a while, I’ll share some songs that apply to social justice.

This starts off with Vandana Shiva talking…

Once they have established the norm –

that seed can be owned as their property –

royalties can be collected.

We will depend on them

for every seed we grow

of every crop we grow.

If they control seed, they control food, they know it; it’s strategic.

It’s more powerful than bombs.

It’s more powerful than guns.

This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”

“Food Fight” by Earth Amplified is a lyrical commentary on life in an urban food desert  and the role the corporations and the government have in it.  But more than that, it’s about how food is used to further oppressed those who are already economically oppressed.
In the video for “Food Fight”, we follow  a kid on a journey through his homicidal food reality. The local corner store is killing his neighborhood — literally. From a Morpheus-like guide, he learns the reality behind the food he’s buying, and must decide to take the Orange Carrot Pill or the Red Bull Pill..

Lyrics:
That’s what the streets them say.

That’s what police them say.

That’s what the Babylon say.

Put cola upon lips

and get popped the same way now.

That’s what The Pentagon say.

That’s what the generals say.

That’s what the empire say.

Put death down your throat,

you get dropped the same way.

SEASUNZ:

There’s a war going on inside,

no man is safe from:

DDTs, PCBs,

every corner in the hood got a KFC

or McD’s. It’s crack speed like RED

Bull-ish they pulpit — so caffeine,

Kit Kat like a click-clack holes in your genes

Cuz everything at market ain’t all what it seems.

Little Debbie bussing biscuits at sugar-high fiends.

Ain’t nothing but a G thing –

GMO, MSG, genocide of street gangs.

Aspartame or street cane.

Monsanto is Rambo.

Round Up with ammo.

Who would have known you can die from a diet

Diabetes and the -itis from the dairy and the dose

of the high fructose

cuz your ribs too close

so you might start a riot.

Might be a FOOD FIGHTER!

CHORUS REPEATED

SEASUNZ:

They shootin’!

Made you look

at the labels on the food that you cook.

Just say no to cocoa box

cuz when you Google the ingredients, you might get got.

Is your milk on drugs? Cuz your brain on Fox.

Factory farming spawning the Meatrix plot,

Globally warming us all, enough cows and NOx

driving the climate, driving a hummer or not.

Drive-in like a drive-by.

E.coli served super sized with a side of super lies.

so tell me what’s more gangsta than that?

Bullets or burgers both blaze burners to black.

Breakfast is a little like Texas,

Petro is everything that you’re eating on

My pesto is backyard like choppin’ chard.

My school lunch pack a punch.

FOOD FIGHT IS ON!

CHORUS REPEATED

STIC.MAN:

What’s Beef?

Beef is when you’re 12 years old and obese

clogged arteries, can’t see your own feet

until you’re up in ICU, guaranteed to be an ‘I see you”

From that processed food.

Suicide. It’s a suicide.

Don’t want no microwaves, no pesticides.

Fast food’s a slow death in disguise.

It’s the wild wild westernized world of deception and lies.

What’s Beef?

Beef is when you starve in a famine.

Nothing won’t grow and the land stays barren.

Pollution in the river, mercury in the salmon.

What sense do it make, being at war with the planet?

We’re at war for the mind so impressionable.

Instead of vegetables,

we reach for Red Bulls.

Poor diets kill more brothers than pistols.

We’re fighting for our lives like Michael Vic’s pit bulls.

Dog eat dog, America eats the young,

We die from beef, but more from meat than the gun.

Bullets for breakfast and mass murder meals.

Enemy of the state, and your plate is the battlefield

in this FOOD FIGHT!

For educators, there is a curriculum download: FOOD FIGHT: EMPOWERING YOUNG SOLUTIONARIES TO CO-CREATE A HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEM
SoS Juice

Creating an urban garden space

An Urban Revitalization Project (click for a video!)

This was a parking lot. This is a project done by a woman who bought an old ice house and renovated it to live in, in an urban area. The garden is her own space that goes with the property but I think it’s a great example of what can come from urban spaces. There are certainly obstacles when we’re talking about converting abandoned lots and parking lots … permission from the property owner,code enforcement… yadayada…but  these things are easier to overcome when you get a few like minded people together to fight a little bit  (or a lot) for the project. I find if you emphasize, “It’s for the benefit of our community “, you get farther and gain more support.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine…”

An extensive study of crack babies conducted in Philadelphia over the span of over 20 years yielded some unexpected results:
Poverty in the inner-city is more powerful than cocaine.

“We went looking for the effects of cocaine,” Hurt said. But after a time “we began to ask, ‘Was there something else going on?’ “

While the cocaine-exposed children and a group of nonexposed controls performed about the same on tests, both groups lagged on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the norm. Hurt and her team began to think the “something else” was poverty.

As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home – measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation – were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside – and the kids were only 7 years old at the time. Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.

More recently, the team did MRI scans on the participants’ brains. Some research has suggested that gestational cocaine exposure can affect brain development, especially the dopamine system, which in turn can harm cognitive function. An area of concern is “executive functioning,” a set of skills involved in planning, problem-solving, and working memory.

The investigators found one brain area linked to attention skills that differed between exposed and nonexposed children, but they could not find any clinically significant effect on behavioral tests of attention skills.

Drug use did not differ between the exposed and nonexposed participants as young adults. About 42 percent used marijuana and three tested positive for cocaine one time each.

The team has kept tabs on 110 of the 224 children originally in the study. Of the 110, two are dead – one shot in a bar and another in a drive-by shooting – three are in prison, six graduated from college, and six more are on track to graduate. There have been 60 children born to the 110 participants.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt to a conclusion she didn’t see coming.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine,” Hurt said at her May lecture.

Other researchers also couldn’t find any devastating effects from cocaine exposure in the womb. Claire Coles, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, has been tracking a group of low-income Atlanta children. Her work has found that cocaine exposure does not seem to affect children’s overall cognition and school performance, but some evidence suggests that these children are less able to regulate their reactions to stressful stimuli, which could affect learning and emotional health.

Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. “When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time.”

Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrics professor at Boston University who has tracked a similar group of children, said the “crack baby” label led to erroneous stereotyping. “You can’t walk into a classroom and tell this kid was exposed and this kid was not,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, there are so many factors that affect poor kids. They have to deal with so much stress and deprivation. We have also found that exposure to violence is a huge factor.”

Read about the study and the conclusions here.

At a time when 2 in 10 children are living in poverty in the United States and many of those are living in the inner city, we need to be paying very close attention to what studies like these tell us. This along with the studies that conclude that nutrition is a huge factor on school performance and brain development (also something common sense could tell us), it just doesn’t make sense that “we” are not desperately trying to end child poverty. It’s definitely not a time to be cutting programs that help feed and educate these children plus provide intervention services  to help them and their families out of it.

 

Why “Grow Your Own Food!” Might Not Be So Easy For Poor People -Part 1

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It seems pretty simple. Having a hard time eating? “Grow your own food!”, they say. “They” are usually well meaning and coming from a place of only good intentions, otherwise I’d be whipping out my, “Honey, you better check your privilege!”  speech. Which I guess is what I’m doing right now but I want to try to do it gently, in more of a pointing things out kind of way and not the tongue lashing kind of way. People living below the poverty line often feel that the ,”YES, you CAN grow your own food!” sentiment is just another way some people make poor people feel bad about being poor and blame them for not doing more to help themselves.

Growing your own food is undeniably one of the best ways to get fresh, nutritious food economically , and bonus points- ethically & eco-friendly. I will always advocate for self-sufficiency in food when possible. But when someone suggests that a person struggling with food security just simply grow their own food, they’re making the following assumptions:

  1. The person has access to land,space , and the soil it takes to grow food
  2. They are able bodied.
  3. They have time to devote to a garden.
  4. They have a budget to acquire seeds & supplies for starting a garden.
  5. They know how to do it.

Digging deeper (that pun was not intended but it does seem like I didn’t try to hard to avoid it), I want to talk about each assumption separately.

Land & Space To Grow Food

Americans who live in urban areas are more likely to live in poverty than those who don’t live in the city.217 million people receiving food stamps live in urban areas compared to about 62 million in rural areas.  Typically, the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods are not the greenest places on earth, which contributes to the food desert clime. In urban areas, the best places for growing food would be balconies,window boxes, fire escapes and rooftops. Not everyone has access to those spaces. If they do have an area they can claim as their own, they may have to consider getting permission from the building owner (who unfortunately, more often than not, is going to give the idea a thumbs down) . Is their hard work only going to be vandalized or destroyed? Is it practical?

I’m an avid gardener but I haven’t always been able to garden, even in rural small town America. I once lived in an apartment building that had a beautiful yard that I saw as potential edible gardens. The owners did not and tenants were only permitted to have small flower pots on the outside stoop. In the house we rent now, our Grey Gardens is A LOT of work for low yield. I’m mainly able to grow all herbs,greens and a few veggies but it’s not nearly enough to put a dent in the food needs of my 7 person family.

Community gardens and CSA co-ops are an excellent solution to this problem but as Novella Carpenter’s experience with her Ghost town Farm ,and other city farmers like the people of LA who founded The Garden can tell us, space in the city is coveted and premium. Meaning, to create sustainable food sources in food deserts,  communities need to raise money to own a space to call their own or a benevolent property owner will have to see a reason to give a gift of land to the community.

Ability

photo via eartheasy.com

There’s a strong connection between being a disabled American and being impoverished. Roughly 30% of all disabled people fall below the poverty line. Disabilities is a broad term but a fair amount are physical and even disabilities not considered a physical disability could inhibit someone’s ability to garden.

Under this category, I would also include elderly people…and sadly, the statistics for the number of elderly living in poverty isn’t so great these days.

It isn’t impossible to garden with disabilities or once you reach old age but there are limitations and accessibility issues. Raised garden beds that are wheelchair accessible are a fantastic solution. Community organizations could help fill the need by contributing supplies and assisting with labor.

Time

A common misconception is that poor people don’t work, especially people who receive assistance like SNAP. For example,30% of food stamp recipients are employed full time .This isn’t a reflection of all people in poverty, since many do not seek assistance or make just barely over the qualifying limit but still live below the line.  Some work part time and are full time students.It isn’t uncommon for a family living below the poverty line to be a two income household or a single parent household working 2 jobs. Underemployment is just as dangerous a place as being unemployed entirely. Time and energy are already being spent on working and/or raising a family in many cases.Gardening?  “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Resources

There’s a popular homesteading page on Facebook that promotes growing your own food as a way to solve your economic hardships. After several posts with the “Poor people should just grow their own food!”, I felt the need to raise some questions, starting with ,”How?”. The response was a very simplistic: People who get food stamps can use their EBT to buy seeds!

Oh. Problem solved! 

Except… if a person on food stamps is buying enough seeds to actually provide fully for their family, that’s a huge dent in their food stamp allowance. Many people are not going to be able to put off food they can eat now for seeds. Many food budget decisions are short term when you’re poor because that’s the way it has to be. The creation more of seed banks and seed exchanges would benefit poor gardeners a lot more than their EBT card.

You can’t buy topsoil or potting soil with food stamps. You can’t buy garden tools with food stamps.

If the person has to resort to indoor gardening, EBT isn’t going to buy grow lights. Planting containers… nope, not those either.

It’s fantastic that the USDA allows people to use their EBT to buy seeds but to help people be self-sufficient food providers, there has to be incentives and programs that offset start-up costs for gardening. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. But you still have to give him a fishing pole.

Knowledge

Some people don’t know the first thing about growing food. That’s not just a poor people thing. There’s a gap in our American modern culture that has a huge disconnect with where our food comes from ,and with nature in general.  The bright spot in this deficit is the huge upswing of food education and ag-curriculum programs in schools. My children’s schools all have some type of food education and gardening program. These programs need to be in every school, not just for the gardening knowledge but for the nutrition education. It takes work,parental involvement and community support but it can happen.

The nice benefit that comes from community gardens is that the organizers pass on their knowledge to any adult interested and willing to learn and do the work. Peer education is an incredible free learning tool.

I’m not trying to rain on everyone’s real food parade here by pointing these things out. I’m just trying to raise awareness to the complexities of growing food. It isn’t as simple as just doing it. If a person CAN do it, then I am their loudest cheerleader. I’m just saying, not everyone can, so let’s just stop with the sentiment that says they can. If they really can and want to, everything should be done to cheer them on. If they can’t, so be it. Don’t keep preaching. It doesn’t help. Grow some extra food in your garden and donate it directly to a family or a local food pantry . That would be an excellent way to help.

Communities everywhere should facilitate and encourage gardening  and community supported agriculture to solve their local hunger and food security problem. I have asserted time and time again that we already CAN feed every single human being with the food that is wasted in the U.S. . Politics prevents this from happening.  With that in mind , it might seem like gardening is a moot point. If there’s already enough food ,why not just focus on managing that correctly and putting it in the people’s mouths? Why garden at all? The great thing that community and home gardens would accomplish is an end to dependency on corporations that grow and distribute the not-so-great food that’s in our system. Bringing food back into local communities and putting the power into people’s hands is best for everyone but everyone needs to work to make this happen. Poverty and food insecurity isn’t going to be eradicated by putting all the responsibility on the people in poverty. Becoming self-sufficient is a huge privilege and the obstacles to achieving it need to be kicked aside by those who already have the possibility of that privilege .

THINGS I MISSED: Additional talking points that I forgot or weren’t aware of

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originally posted on crazy dumbsaint of the mind

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