Things That Are Trifling

Thoughts on Food, Gender, Race, and Popular Culture

Food Stamp Cuts…

This makes me SO incredibly mad! Sorry not sorry, asshole republicans who don’t know ANYTHING about this program but just want to legislate to be mean.

“It is terrible policy wrapped in a terrible process…It was just cooked up in the majority leader’s office as some sort of Heritage Foundation fever dream,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “It is a rotten thing to do.”

Republicans keep being quoted as saying that it only ends the waiver that let ABAWDs get SNAP for more than 3 months in a 3 year period. That’s only part of the story.

First, nearly all states extended this waiver, and FNS allowed and encouraged it, because of the recession. Jobs aren’t really coming back. What are the jobs? They are poor ass paying jobs that don’t even get people enough to get by. Also, as I saw in DC, the job training programs that SNAP offices provide are no substitute for a real job, unless they allow flexibility in what counts as work training. It’s insulting to make people who are homeless fill out resumes or apply blindly to jobs online when the people who are getting hired are probably those with college degrees or GEDs at minimum. Now if we could get behind, oh I don’t know, MORE ACCESSIBLE SCHOOL OR VOCATIONAL PROGRAMS, that would be good. But no, let’s drug test them all.  Drug testing has been proven to be a waste of money and waste of time for public benefit recipients in many states.

This bill also stops seniors and household with kids from benefiting for SNAP if their gross income is slightly higher than 130% of poverty, even if their housing costs or childcare costs put their net income afterwards below 100%). I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it costs thousands of dollars to put a kid in childcare. Under this rule, a mom making like $8/hour wouldn’t qualify for SNAP anymore even though after childcare/rent, her gross monthly income would be way less than 100% of FPL.

Also by instituting an asset rule it basically wipes out the point of saving money. Why save money if the government is going to stop helping you after you have just 2K saved.  Where’s the incentive?

I am so freaking mad that Fox News put this dumbass who buys lobster with SNAP as the poster child for this program instead of the fact that like HALF the people on SNAP are CHILDREN. I hope this dude doesn’t sleep at night anymore.

On the plus side, this Congresswoman had a great tactic. Too bad this type of talk isn’t what gets national news. Stupid Lucas and King should be ashamed. What if all of their constituents who were on SNAP decided to vote against them in the next election? Steve King’s district has a 17% Food Hardship rate. Lucas’s food hardship rate in his district is 18.9.

Finally- something that no one else has mentioned. SO MANY of the legislators I saw walking up to talk about the evilness of SNAP cuts were representatives of color and women. Who wanted to cut SNAP? A bunch of white people. Mostly white men.



Racism Is Never an Accident

This week, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J released a musical gem to the world. Feeling that musicians and performing artists have been failing to address this issue well, Brad Paisley decided to tackle the issue of racism head on. In a new song called “Accidental Racism*,” Paisley lamented how the legacy of slavery and racism is still negatively affecting our daily interactions. As a person of color, this is something I’ve known since sentience. I have lived this every day and will likely continue to experience the realities of racist institutions until the day I leave this Earth. The idea that Brad Paisley was going to teach me something I didn’t already know seemed dubious to begin with. I guess it was always possible that I pre-judged Paisley and that he and LL Cool J had incredibly valuable contributions to make to a national conversation about race in America. But this was not the case. Instead, what we got was a combination of faulty analogies, false equivalencies, flimsy excuses and poor justifications. It’s easy to acknowledge that Mr. Paisley’s attempt to address racial tensions in the United States may have started from a place of genuine concern, but it quickly descended into madness.

In the second verse, Paisley describes himself as a humble Southern boy, distressed by the violent and regrettable history and legacy of slavery. He later goes on to suggest that there isn’t much he can do about it so we should probably just let the whole thing go. To his credit, he tries to explain that Reconstruction and the attempts to rebuild the South and the Union after the abolition of slavery has left a lot to be desired as far as racial justice and relations. However, he seems to be incapable or wholly unwilling to try to empathize with realities of people of color in the United States. Or even attempt to comprehend the pervasiveness of negative cultural and sociopolitical consequences to slavery, Jim Crow and segregation.

The most frustrating passage of the song is when Paisley tries to convince listeners that we shouldn’t be so skeptical of Southern pride and that opposition to the image of the Confederate flag is simply misplaced blame towards Southerners who had no hand in the institution of slavery.

‘Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland
Just like you I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

It is difficult for me to take this seriously. Cognitively, I am well aware that most of the white people with whom I interact had no hand in perpetuating slavery and segregation. That they didn’t willingly or tacitly endorse legalizing policies that allowed black people to be treated like less than human, like second-class citizens. However, that does not mean that I should ignore or refuse to acknowledge that despite the illegality of Jim Crow laws and segregation, we live in a racist society. One that is rife with daily microaggressions, the reinforcement of “white is right” ideology in the media, and institutional policies that perpetuate certain races and classes of people over others.

None of these things are accidents.

They are the direct result of living in a society that has struggled to recover from a painful history of enslavement, violence, miscegenation and the tearing apart of families. They are the direct result of our inability to sustain a national public dialogue about race without accusations of sensitivity, entitlement, and blaming. They are the direct result of black people in America constantly being told in coded or clear language to know their place. To not ask for too much. To be grateful for what we have. But here is the issue – even after slavery ended, after Jim Crow laws were declared illegal and after schools were integrated, harmful racial attitudes, institutional policies that favor certain demographics, cultural ideals that value some aesthetics and bodies more than others remained. I experience these realities every day. It’s commonplace to me, but it isn’t just or right. And I know I’m not alone in that thinking. Should we do what Paisley suggests and not judge him for willfully sporting a symbol that to many represents one of the darkest times in our country’s history from which we still haven’t recovered? Or give him a pass for his good intentions? After all…we’re not slaves anymore. We achieved integration. We’re allowed to subsist. Shouldn’t that be good enough? Shouldn’t we just let it go?

*Note: The original video has since been removed from Youtube. Read the full lyrics here.

No Other Kitchen Would Do

The undertones of this are almost too much to bear.

So much appropriation going on I feel like I’m in Congress.

Nutrition Ed In One Color

As I was writing this title I thought about a parody character of all the well-meaning white folks who want to “teach” people how to “eat well” but actually have no idea of the cultural, social, economic circumstances affecting how people relate to food in this country, assuming they can access it, afford it and have time to know what to do with it. You’d call him Nutrition Ed. Nutrition Ed would be a cartoon character I could use to illustrate all the nonsense I see going on in the food “justice” and “advocacy” world.  The misadventures of nutrition education.


This is my point. Nutrition Ed thinks that coloring pages or cooking classes will help kids learn good habits. Nutrition Ed has never really spent time in a classroom but thinks that kids can benefit from his knowledge.

Nutrition Ed clearly will never get a job at Mars, Inc. when he graduates. They’ve already got him schooled. Make any label green and people will think it is HEALTHY!

The Red Lipstick Manifesta

Take a few minutes to watch this great video, “The Red Lipstick Manifesta” written by LC Coleman at Colored Girl Confidential.

The Red Lipstick Manifesta is a love note to every career woman who has ever felt overwhelmed or discouraged or just plain not good enough; a love note to every woman has been told not to speak until she is spoken to… and then is never spoken to. Cheers to never giving up on yourself or your big, audacious dreams!

11 Amazing Food Advocacy Organizations

We believe that everyone has a right to access health and sustainable food. Unfortunately, our food and agriculture system in the United States does not always allow for the just production and distribution of healthy, sustainable food. Here is a list of 11 food advocacy organizations who are working to change that.

  1. Restaurant Opportunities Center United – A national organization that works to improve the wages and working conditions of food industry workers. ROC is active in research, policy work, employer engagement, membership and leadership development, and workplace justice campaigns.
  2. Coalition of Immokalee Workers – A grassroots community-based organization made up of mostly Mayan, Latino and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage food jobs aimed at improving conditions for farmworkers. First founded in 1993, CIW has organized a number of successful campaigns including its Anti-Slavery Campaign, the Campaign for Fair Food, and the Fair Food Program campaign.
  3. Live Real – A platform for young people to get involved with shaping the food system in the United States. Live Real is guided by belief in real justice and real health. Its current campaign for real food is Bring Healthy Back! community members pledge to eat real food for 30 days while sharing their experiences through social media.
  4. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is a DC based food advocacy membership organization that advocates for federal policy reform to support sustainable agriculture, food systems, natural resources and rural communities. NSAC is one of the most reliable resources on the development of sustainable ag policy in major food bills, particularly the Farm Bill.
  5. Food Democracy Now – A community of advocates who organize online and in person actions across the country aimed at building a sustainable food system that provides healthy food for families, maintains natural resources and supports farmers.
  6. Food and Water Watch – A non-profit organization that informs policymakers on and advocates policies that will ensure safe, accessible water and food. Food and Water Watch has 15 different offices across the country of policy researchers and communication experts who build campaigns and influence decisions in order to protect consumers.
  7. National Family Farm Coalition – A coalition of family farmers and rural groups who work on the grassroots and federal policy level to empower family farmers and ensure a safe, strong, and just food and farm system.
  8. Green for All – A national nonprofit based in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA focused on building green economy that can raise people out of poverty. Green for All’s food justice work includes supporting policies that promote healthy food and repairing the food system through green jobs promotion.
  9. Detroit Black Community Food Security Network – A coalition based in Detroit, MI that aims to build food security in black communities by influencing public policy, promoting urban agriculture, promoting healthy eating habits, facilitating collective action among members, and encouraging young people to engage in agriculture and other food related fields. DBCFSN will be celebrating its 7th anniversary at the end of the month!
  10. Rooted in Community – Rooted In Community (RIC) is a national network of youth and adults that encourages and empowers youth to take on leadership roles in their communities. RIC members are committed to developing a just food system through urban and rural agriculture, food security, and environmental justice initiatives. RIC holds a
  11. Food Chain Workers Alliance – The Food Chain Workers Alliance is a coalition worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food, organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. They seek to build a more sustainable and just food system that addresses institutionalized racism, corporate control of the food system, and poor working conditions.

7 Food Blogs or Sites That We Love

We enjoy reading other folks’ opinions about developments in U.S. food policy, new opportunities in sustainable agriculture, and advocacy efforts supporting food industry workers and food justice initiatives. Here’s a list of 7 blogs we visit regularly to stay updated on important food issues.

  1. Civil Eats – A source of writings by food advocates and activists who promote ideas supporting sustainable agriculture and food systems.
  2. Fooducate – A website created and maintained by dietitians  nutritionists and parents to provide accurate information (good and bad) about nutritional content of what we eat. Just use your mobile phone to scan UPC barcodes of food and let Fooducate do the rest!
  3. Grist – One of the most reliable environmental news and analysis sites out there. Grist’s environmental commentary often includes articles about the food industry and agriculture in the U.S.
  4. Appetite for Profit – Michele Simon, a food writer with years of experience, and author of Appetite for Profit, regularly updates her blog with opinions of the food industry’s role in perpetuating poor food habit.
  5. U.S. Food Policy – Parker Wilde’s personal blog about food policy in the United States. Wilde is a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
  6. Hunger Incorporated – A blog and fundraising site managed by Andy Fisher, founder of the Community Food Security Coalition and longtime anti-hunger and food security advocate. Andy is writing a book about how corporations are benefiting from present state of hunger in the United States.
  7. Where Is My Milk From? – Find out where your milk comes from!

I finally get a media hit. On a conservative blog.

Every now and then I get a google news alert for D.C. Hunger Solutions. My first reaction is always “OMG how are we in the news” because I never know to look for it. Then once I read it I remember that we did a press release on the topic recently, or of course Alex would be interviewed for school breakfast, etc.

But this one wasn’t even quoting a news release. It was quoting something that I wrote like four months ago.

Suppose is the conservative version of HuffPo…

The federal government’s food stamp recruitment program SNAP, the AARP, and the Urban League  are teaming up to end “senior hunger” in the nation’s capitol regardless of an individual’s income level. According to the D.C. Hunger Solutions website:

DC Hunger Solutions joins with AARP DC Volunteers, the Greater Washington Urban League, and AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly to fight senior hunger Senior hunger in Washington D.C. is real and it is growing. 10% of District seniors, regardless of their income level, were worried about food running out sometime in the last twelve months. Approximately 14.5 percent of the District’s 94,400 adults aged 60 and over lived below the federal poverty line in 2009.

D.C. Hunger Solutions is working with AARP DC volunteers and the Greater Washington Urban League to delve deeper into senior hunger issues and connect eligible seniors to the SNAP/Food Stamp program.

– See more at:


So, this is hilarious in its absurdity. I mean really. I am preying on seniors by telling them about the food stamp program?

Jesus! If anyone deserves food assistance it is our nation’s seniors. Especially those folk who worked and got paid VERY LITTLE because they are women and people of color so their social security checks are nowhere near enough to live on. You think telling them about a program that they might not even have considered applying for otherwise because of all the misinformation out there, is a crime? If there were ever any implicit racism going on, this would be it.

Also, they are stupid. They say we are trying to sign people up regardless of income level but we clearly say that we want to sign up ELIGIBLE seniors because MANY SENIORS REGARDLESS OF INCOME are at risk of going hungry.

Also, SNAP is not the “food stamp recruitment program” it’s the new name for SNAP. SNAP OUTREACH is not recruitment.

Apparently comprehensive reading isn’t in their repertoire.

To their credit they do quote some Democrats at the end talking about how the poverty rate would rise if we cut SNAP. Which is true. But just thrown in.

There is no real point to this article- no argument, just a summary of whatever Jeff Sessions rambled on about in a hearing. Let’s not forget the fact that his state is majority black, has high rates of obesity, terrible school systems, and generally is comprised of the very people he is denigrating as dependent on government.

Sometimes I really can’t understand what goes through the head of white men with so much inborn privilege. I wish someone would create a medicine to change the chemical balance of their brain so they can realize what’s actually going on in the world.

Also “means-tested federal welfare” does no one know that only 1 million people TOTAL in the country receive TANF?


Another gem from Sociological Images, one of my favorite blogs. 

I would have never thought that someone would be video blogging about the cultural capital of hipsters. I think what it all boils down to is conspicuous consumption. Hipsters want others to be aware of their appropriations and cultural statements. Nerds and geeks don’t care if anyone outside their niche group does or doesn’t know what they are up to, and can enjoy what they are doing in the privacy of their own space without the need for approval, reaction, or judgement from anyone.

I think wearing a shirt with an ironic statement on it is hipster. Wearing something unironically… is nerdy. Like…. Thrift Shop is not a song for people who actually have to rely on thrift shops for clothing because they don’t have the luxury of “choosing” anything else. Wearing something from Goodwill because it’s all you can afford might classify you as one thing (not nerdy or geeky though, possibly out-of-place, especially if your social circle is one that values name brands precisely because they are out of reach) but wearing it to make a statement about consumerism, is “cool” and “trendy”.



Grammys and Black History Month

The Grammys are this evening. We’re not that excited. Interestingly, many of the categories that feature a majority of black nominees are not televised. Some of those winners include Rihanna, Jay-Z and Kanye West.

I generally think that many of the nominees for all Grammy categories represent the most visible of each, not necessarily the best.

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