• Brenda Sanders

Malik Yakini of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network



Food & Justice w/ Brenda Sanders is a weekly online video series and podcast that tackles issues of food access, environmental justice, health disparities, dietary racism, and other topics related to food and justice.


Brenda Sanders interviews Malik Yakini (Instagram: #malikyakini) about the nature of farming and what true food justice looks like. They talk about his inspiring work to bring food security to people in Detroit, Michigan. Malik is an activist and educator who is committed to freedom and justice for African people in particular and humanity in general. Malik is a co-founder and the executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), which operates a seven acre farm in Detroit and spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council which he chaired from December 2009 to May 2012. He served as a member of the Michigan Food Policy Council from 2008 to 2010, then from 2011 to 2013 he served on the steering committee of Uprooting Racism Planting Justice. He is a co-founder of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. Malik is dedicated to working to identify and alleviate the impact of racism and white privilege in the food system. He has an intense interest in contributing to the development of an international food sovereignty movement that embraces Black farmers in the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa. He views the good food revolution as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality.


Some key moments in this podcast:


[ 7:16... ] Malik talks about how Malcolm X inspired him to become a food activist: “...[Malcom X] kind of shook my 13 year old brain and started me thinking about food for the first time within a historical and a cultural context…”


[ 17:17... ] Malik explains the mission of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN): “...we want to encourage black people to think about the food system and how we are not just subjects that are acted upon by it, but how we are agents of creating our own destiny and really using food as a way of building that power and building that ability to control our community so i would say in a nutshell that's that's what we're about.”


[ 22:17... ] “Detroit is 139 square miles and about one-third of the land in the city right now is vacant land. So we have the opportunity to do agriculture on a scale that is unimaginable in most cities. Number one, we want to train people to grow food. Number two, to provide access to fresh healthy produce. And number three, we want to model how unused or underutilized land in the city of Detroit can be put to productive use.”


[ 24:06... ] “...We have what's called a license agreement with the city to use the land. We started out with two acres and we added five additional acres in 2010 giving us a total of seven acres again making us the largest farm in the city of Detroit.”


[ 43:03... ] Malik explains how DBCFSN’s core values of respect for life and nature have informed their regenerative and sustainable farming practices: “...the industrial farming that’s used to produce the vast majority of food in the U.S. has a tremendously negative impact on topsoil. In fact we're losing topsoil at a rate much faster than the earth can naturally reproduce it. So by taking in what other people consider to be garbage [food waste] and producing compost, we're actually building new soil and regenerating the earth…”


[ 48:50… ] Brenda closes the interview with a question to Malik about DBCFSN’s youth program. Malik’s response: “First I want to hail up my sister mama, Hanifa Ajumman who heads our youth program. She's the education outreach director of DBCFSN and she's a co-founder of the organization. Hanifa runs the youth program we operate.. including raised-bed gardens for youth as well as classroom instruction. So, the children are learning not only gardening but about nutrition; they’re learning about Food Justice concepts; and they're learning about the role and contributions of African and African American people to the development of agriculture…”


ABOUT THE GUEST


Malik Kenyatta Yakini is an activist and educator who is committed to freedom and justice for African people in particular and humanity in general. Yakini is a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a seven-acre farm in Detroit and spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council, which he chaired from December 2009 – May 2012. He served as a member of the Michigan Food Policy Council from 2008 – 2010. From 2011 – 2013 he served on the steering committee of Uprooting Racism Planting Justice. He is a co-founder of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance.


From 1990 – 2011 he served as Executive Director of Nsoroma Institute Public School Academy, one of Detroit’s leading African-centered schools. In 2006 he was honored as “Administrator of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Timbuktu Academy of Science and Technology from 2004 – 2011. He is C.E.O. of Black Star Educational Management. He is dedicated to working to identify and alleviate the impact of racism and white privilege on the food system. He has an intense interest in contributing to the development of an international food sovereignty movement that embraces Blacks farmers in the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa. He views the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality.


Yakini has presented at numerous local community meetings and national conferences on creating a racially just food system and implementing community food sovereignty practices. In 2017 and 2018 he co-led the course “Food Literacy for All” at the University of Michigan. He is featured in the book “Blacks Living Green,” and the movies “Urban Roots” and “Tomorrow”. He has appeared on the nationally televised Tavis Smiley Show and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He served as an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy “Food and Community Fellow” from 2011- 2013, and a Business Alliance for Living Local Economies (BALLE) Localist Fellow from 2014 – 2015.


He is the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious James Beard Leadership Award. He holds a B.A. degree in Broadcasting from Eastern Michigan University.

Yakini is a musician who plays guitar, bass and dundun drums. He currently leads the Detroit-based band Mollywop! He has traveled to Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Italy, France, Spain and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is the father of three and the grandfather of one. He is a vegan and an avid organic grower.

SUBSCRIBE AND WATCH ABOUT BRENDA SANDERS


Brenda Sanders is a vegan food justice activist who co-founded Thrive Baltimore, a community resource center that offers free classes, workshops, cooking demos and other programming that supports people in living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. She’s also executive director of Afro-Vegan Society, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to people in marginalized communities to assist them in transitioning to veganism, co-creator of Vegan SoulFest, an annual festival that celebrates culture and all aspects of vegan living and co-owner of The Greener Kitchen, a vegan deli and food distributor that produces plant-based foods that are both affordable and accessible. Brenda is also the host of Food & Justice, a weekly online video series and podcast that tackles issues of food access, environmental justice, health disparities, dietary racism, and other topics related to food and justice.


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ABOUT THE SHOW

Food & Justice w/ Brenda Sanders is a weekly online video series and podcast that tackles issues of food access, environmental justice, health disparities, dietary racism, and other topics related to food and justice.