Alma Sheppard-Matsuo artwork

Sustainable Justice for 2014

By Dara Cooper

Western notions of time and calendars aside (I also celebrate the Ethiopian New Year in September), I am reflecting on social justice, freedom struggles and what I hope we are able to accomplish in struggle this year.  Following is a list of my personal justice resolutions for the New Year.

1. Being focused.  With so much media around us, we are bombarded with information, and it is typically distracting information.  My aspiration is to free political prisoners (in the US and abroad) and to end mass incarceration as we build communities with an abundance of good food, sustainable housing, and sustainable transportation. I want to limit our collective intake of reactionary pop culture social media distractions. How can we not get so easily distracted, move away from investing intellectual and energetic capital in these distractions and toward more movement building?

2. Investing more in youth. Young people—especially Black and Brown youth—deserve to be invested in and not criminalized. This is urgent. My aspirations for this year include more teaching, listening, learning and creating space for youth at the table.

3. Connecting maternal health, child nutrition and food justice in more succinct ways.  I currently work on food justice at head start programs and just received word that one of my colleagues passed away after childbirth. This was devastating news, particularly since I learned that Black women are eight times more likely to die from childbirth related complications than white women. My heart is with my colleague’s family and the motherless child that survived.

Violence via the health industry, maternal health, child nutrition and community food access need to be connected. For example, food justice can begin with the wellness of mothers and Black women, who deserve much better.  We deserve—at the very least—to live.

4. Personalizing the struggle.  I have an aspiration to embody the dream I have for my community.  I want my community to be physically, emotionally, and nutritionally healthy and strong; to have the right to good food, strong bodies and emotional wellness; to breathe clean air and enjoy harmony and balance with the planet. This dream is very personal. My resolution is to eat clean, move my body, bike more, stress less, rest more, drink more water, and prioritize my health as a part of our freedom struggle. Black women’s lives matter and I am a part of that struggle.

I am excited that outlets such as Praxis Center provide opportunities for more truth telling. We need more informed, on the ground, insightful, and honest discussions about social justice. I am committing to that process as the contributing editor of the “Environment, Food, & Sustainability” section, where we will lift up important work and voices in freedom struggle and education on these issues.

I look forward to this journey with all of you.

Dara Cooper is a contributing editor of Praxis Center.

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