400 Years of Racial Injustice Tearing at Our Social Safety Net

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

This week’s episode is taken from the second installment of the Conversations on Food Justice, a collaboration between Share Our Strength and the Aspen Institute’s Food and Society Program. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1) moderates the discussion, which features former Obama Administration Secretary of Education (and current Education Trust President and CEO) Dr. John B. King Jr. and former Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD-4).

“Systemic racism operates to create structural barriers… This is the system that we created over 400 years. If we want something different we have to actively work to dismantle those systems,” explains King. “The system suggests that there’s something wrong with trying to figure out how to feed yourself and your family, that there is something negative about doing all that you can to access food,” notes Edwards.

“If you look at federal programs, they’re really designed to keep people from accessing them more than they are to have people experience not being hungry,” says Edwards. King agrees. “We could center healthy eating and nutrition in our public policy. We choose not to… We really need to reorient how we think about food systems in our country,” he says.

Join us for this thoughtful discussion about how we can better achieve food justice in America.

Resources and Mentions:

Chellie Pingree

Chellie Pingree

U. S. Representative
Chellie Pingree is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Maine's 1st congressional district since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, her district includes most of the southern part of the state, including Portland and Augusta. Pingree was a member of the Maine Senate from 1992 to 2000, serving as majority leader for her last four years. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, losing to incumbent Republican Susan Collins. From 2003 until 2006, she was president and CEO of Common Cause. She is the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine.
Donna Edwards

Donna Edwards

Donna Edwards served as the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 4th congressional district from 2008 to 2017. She is a member of the Democratic Party. A lawyer and longtime community activist, she defeated 15-year incumbent Albert Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary. Following his resignation, she won a special election on June 17, 2008, to fill the remainder of this term. She was sworn in two days later on June 19, becoming the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in the United States Congress. Edwards ran for a full term in November 2008, defeating Republican candidate Peter James with 85% of the vote. She was defeated by Chris Van Hollen in the Democratic primary to replace retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, instead of running for re-election to her Congressional seat.
John B. King Jr.

John B. King Jr.

President and CEO
John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems.

The Education Trust

The Education Trust is a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. Through research and advocacy, Ed Trust supports efforts that expand excellence and equity in education from preschool through college, increase college access and completion particularly for historically underserved students, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to act on equity issues.