The police killings of Anton Sterling and Philando Castile last week, and today's one-year anniversary of the unsolved death of Sandra Bland in police custody, have left me feeling enraged and exhausted, just as it has for so many others. It's the same pain I felt for days after Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson in Ferguson and his body was left in the street for four hours.
And yet, with all this ongoing trauma, what I feel most consistently is empowered and renewed by the resistance and organizing of people across the country fighting for justice and systemic change, especially the Black Lives Matter movement, and women like Iesha Evans, a nurse and mother of a 5-year-old son, standing their ground.
And as part of that empowerment, I've been taking extra care of myself these days and I urge you to (continue to) do the same.
So with that in mind, I'm sharing a post I wrote back in December 2014 about eating for activism. It's one of my most widely shared articles. And if it resonates with you today, I hope you'll share it with someone you love, too. Here's what I wrote:
I've been following and participating in some of the recent protests around the non-indictments of white police officers for murdering black children and adults.
Sadly, these non-indictments come as no surprise. State-sanctioned violence against black people is an inherent part of institutionalized white supremacy in this country that dates back to enslavement.
And as you may have heard, according to a 2012 report by Operation Ghetto Storm, a black person is killed by police, security officers, or vigilantes every 28 hours.
So, people across the country and around the world continue to act, to move, to fight to bring an end to these 21st century lynchings.
And while we're doing that, we need to be extra sure we're eating well. Over the years, I've known too many activists who think that the urgency of protesting is too important to stop and think about food. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is, if you're an activist, you're likely to be in a heightened state of moving, thinking, organizing, resisting, multi-tasking, and stress. Your immune system is taking a hit and you need to make sure it's being strengthened, not weakened. So this is precisely the time to increase the amount of healthful foods you're eating right now.
Indeed, sustained activism requires that we not only take the time to eat well, but to exercise and meditate, too, so that we can be the most helpful to ourselves and others. Even during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, naturopath Alvenia Fulton, Dick Gregory and others led participants in fasts and healthful, plant-based eating.
And it's important to note that just as there were 313 extrajudicial killings of black people in 2012, there were more than 300,000 preventable deaths of black people in 2010 caused by diet-related chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease.
This is not a comparison game. Rather, it's a reminder that unhealthful diets are a social justice and human rights issue, as well, since there are state-sanctioned reasons that low-income African Americans, in particular, do not have access to healthful foods.
That said, we do not want to be active participants in our genocide. So with the activist work you may be doing now and in the future, remember to eat more healthful plant-based foods. Here are some examples.
Start your day with a green smoothie or a green juice, along with a bowl of oatmeal mixed with chopped walnuts and apples, and sprinkled with cinnamon. Or you can even make a quick colorful salad for breakfast, with black beans, corn, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado and dairy-free mayo.
For a snack, bring along 2-3 pieces of fruit: an orange, banana, a pear, an apple, or a baggy filled with 1/2 cup fresh berries. And bring a baggy of 1/2 cup unsalted, unroasted nuts, as well, such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, or pecans.
For lunch, bring a veggie burger sandwich (one of my faves is Sunshine brand Black Bean Southwest Burger), or bring a wrap made from a whole grain tortilla filled with spicy red beans and brown rice, avocado, tomatoes, onions, finely chopped spinach, and salsa or chipotle sauce. And be sure to sip plenty of water throughout the day.
And finally, when you get home, fix an easy veggie stir-fry using broccoli, cashews, red peppers, ginger, onions and garlic.
Then get plenty of rest so you can start out fresh the next day. We need you to stay healthy out there!
Have a great rest of the week, fam!