I posted this at the end of last year on the old Sistah Vegan blog, but wanted to repost it.
December 18, 2009
I just got back from Bryant Terry’s brainstorming session and brunch around his new book, Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine. Wow, what a spiritually amazing experience!
Picture a living room filled with mostly brown and black food justice activists and supporters who have come together around a common cause: to help get the word out about VSK (Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine
) and letting everyone know about Terry’s creative genius!
Bryant’s book comes out the first week of March 2009 and his goal is to make sure it reaches the hands of 100,000+ folk the first year of publication. During brunch this afternoon, one of the focuses was to acknowledge that we need to figure out how to market to people outside of the usual audience who would normally buy these types of books; “usual” being white middle class female demographic. (Am not hatin’ on them, just pointing out that there is a huge gap that needs to be ‘tapped’.)
I think it would be great if everyone who is into food justice, eco-sustainable living, animal rights, and/or nutritional healing could help with this endeavor. Sad to say, but we as individuals, are going to have to be the ones to get the word out on VSK (and other food justice endeavors by people of color). Marketing such books to those who are not part of white middle class constituency is often not “in the budget” of the publishers. However, why let “budgets” keep VSK from not reaching the 100,000+ goal?
What can we do!? These are just a few suggestions.
*Blast emails, Facebook , MySpace, listserv communications to any group of folk you know that would love this book’s intent.
Animal Rights groups, vegan and vegetarian groups, justice organizations focusing on racial justice, nutritional awareness folk, for example.
*Host an event at your place to get people excited about the book so they can tell their friends!
*Tell your friends to go to your bookstore and ask that they pre-order it! The more who show up, demanding the book, the more the bookstore is going to “get” that this book is going to be off the hook and that they need to get in on it to!
VSK isn’t just a ‘cookbook’. In his preface, Terry let’s the reader know that it’s about reclaiming the healthy roots of African American soul food. It’s reminding brown and black folk, kind of what we already know in terms of ‘eating better’ and ‘eating from the land’; reminding us that this philosophy of healthy hella good eating isn’t “new”, but it existed before the big shift in the USA to highly processed foods that have infiltrated and become an ‘every day’ staple in many communities of color/low income communities.
Just picture a book that is about rejuvenating the soul through some hella good tasting food, not based on fake or mock meats, but rather fresh tasty delights.
And imagine a book that, when you open the pages and begin reading, is inspired by USA soul culture and music. Terry literally has a soulful ‘soundtrack’ to this book. With his recipes, he will advise you what song will vibe the best while cooking and eating his recipes. As a matter of fact, to get the ‘vibe’ of the brainstorm brunch session into harmony, Terry had local vocal artist, Reneé Wilson, gift us with an original song of ‘soul’ and ‘love’ to season us just right (www.reneewilson.org).
I firmly believe that, unlike many recent cook books that have come out, Terry’s book is literally about a food justice that centers on the physical and emotional needs of many folk– particularly the black and brown communities in the USA who are at the highest risk for nutritional-related diseases– yet is still accessible and useful for ANYONE who just wants some good food. He doesn’t preach or proselytize. He comes from a place of love and non-judgment. He has witnessed our brown and black communities suffering, simply because of how we eat and what we are unable to have access to (usually due to race and class issues). This is a man who simply wants us to know that yes, you can have your corn bread, collard greens, and yams AND decrease your chances for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, etc- and it tastes fantastic!
To support Terry’s project is to support a part of the the food movement in the USA that is generally ignored by the status quo. Basically, within the mainstream, it is assumed that everyone is white middle class and has the transportation, financial, and educational means to access healthier and tastier foods. The mainstream food movement generally doesn’t have to think about environmental racism, ‘food deserts,’ legacies of colonialism on brown, black and red bodies, etc.
Terry thinks about it. Terry’s heart is entrenched in making his soul food philosophy available to, and a reality for, those that the white middle class food movement doesn’t necessarily speak to. Mr. Terry will certain break open new ground with this book- and judging by the amount of people of color crowded together in Terry’s new home in Oakland, CA, there are plenty of us available to take it upon ourselves to continue healing our communities– this time nutritionally, through ‘soul’ and ‘food’.
Of course, this is nothing new, as people of color in the USA have been doing this type of activism for decades, using our churches, community centers, and living rooms to create new way of achieving liberation and freedom for our folk. Such folk representing and supporting this grassroots activism in Terry’s living room were Jason Harvey of Oakland Food Connection (www.foodcommunityculture.org), Byron Hurt of the new film project “Soul Food Junkies” (www.bhurt.com) & Zakiya Harris of Grind for the Green (www.myspace.com/grindforthegreen).
Thank you Bryant Terry and the food justice supporters this afternoon, for helping to continue this tradition of grassroots activism, aiming at the hearts (and heart health) for nutritional liberation.