So……. I realized last year that I need to get my bachelors because there are some academic goals I have that only exist at a graduate level. That’s cool and dope… except for one thing. I had no idea what to get my B.A. or B.S. in. I ran down all the things I enjoy. I had to run down the things I’m actually good at. Then I had to compare the lists. I really enjoy learning about how we got here. Specifically, what did my ancestors do/think/say for me to exist right now. Clearly, they did something right because I’m sitting here typing on a magic square that you can read without being anywhere near me. Also, I love food. I’ve always loved food. I watched Food Network more than Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network combined while I was growing up. Once I learned how to cook, I’d experiment by trying random seasonings in our cabinet in the food. My mom probably hasn’t forgiven me for the time I put a little cinnamon in the hamburgers, but she didn’t die and it was good so I only see success from that scenario.
I realized something the other day. The universe will show you things when you are ready and open to them. Or rather, you will notice and allow things to fall into their places when you are ready for them. Or even, you’re ancestors will help you connect dots you never knew existed. How you reach these points doesn’t really matter. Don’t rush the process because that how you end up in “I don’t know how I got here but I do not like it” situations.
I started this blog without a fully defined purpose because I knew it would be a stepping stone to an unknown destination. I wasn’t sure how it would be used, but I caught myself thinking about it enough so I started it. Why not? It’s free and can be deleted at any time. Zero risk is involved.
My name is Lynona and I love history. No, I’m not referring to your 10th grade US History class. I’m referring to the past of anything, in general. I like listening to my grandfather’s stories about go kart racing in the 40s and 50s. I like reading about everyday black people existing through the lens of Zora Neale Hurston. I like watching documentaries about how humans evolved their cooking practices over the years and through the various regions we have existed in. Most problems have been figured out in the past, we just aren’t that smart (or maybe we are so full of ourselves) so we don’t look there for answers.
I had a conversation awhile ago with a friend has stuck with me and made me decide to major in Anthropology (at some point in my life). He mentioned that we rarely know about anything that doesn’t directly tie to Europeans (and their descendants) after colonization, the Atlantic slave trade and imperialism. I never learned what the year 1400 looked like in Kenya. What they believed, what they did, what they invented, their diet, their clothing, etc. Nothing! I learned in school that the Africans were savages to be taught the correct way to live by the Europeans. Of course, this never sat well with me since I had an educator for a mother and grew up around too many intelligent black people for that to make sense. They really wanted me to believe that an entire continent was worthless and stupid before Europeans arrived. A continent that had been around thousands of years without them… Really? They really tried to have me believe that there were only a handful of prominent enough Black Americans for me to learn about in school. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Park, Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver. Those were my white teachers’ favorites to tell us about. Imagine their surprise when I walked in with a project about Shirley Chisholm and I knew her career, inside and out. I want to know how we got here. What decisions, inventions, prayers, rituals, blessings, and battles my ancestors created, survived and passed down for me to get here? I know food played a huge part in that. I know that food has been used for generations as a weapon against people of color and poor people. I know that there are programs in place to deprive us of good nutrition. No one should have to fight for our kids to get healthy, nutrient dense foods at school and yet here we are.
Changing my diet, rejecting the processed nonsense and making informed decisions about my food consumption is an act of rebellion. I’m rejecting so many things society tells me I can’t escape. I can escape pharmaceutical drugs by the bottle. If my ancestors could survive being stolen, put on ships to unknown destinations, learn how to grow crops in foreign lands, survive slavery, survive emancipation, survive Reconstruction, the lynchings, the bonfires, the riots, the domestic terrorism, every other obstacle, AND live to be 80 or 100 years old without them… certainly I can do better than just survive. I can flourish using foods that already grow from the ground and are not made in a processing plant with too much sodium. My mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers didn’t work hard for me to survive. They worked so I could flourish. I’m deciding to shift the narrative beyond survival and into living my best life. My best life begins with what I decide to fuel my body and mind with.
Being healthy isn’t a “white” thing to do. That is self hate that was programmed into your mind by society to keep you where you are. This isn’t a conspiracy, its a deliberate act. Slave masters knew that if they destroyed your connections to your past and future, you would be stuck in the present they needed you to be in for their profit. I’m actively deciding to not be stuck in my present, learn from my past and actively build a better future. Being healthy allows you the freedom to do what you want on your terms without aches or pains. It saves you money because you won’t be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on medications per year. No matter what diet you decide to subscribe to, any person with a working brain is going to say processed foods are horrible for you. A plant based diet still has all the foods we love as southern black people. Collard greens are plants. Pinto and lima beans are plants. Cornbread comes from . . . guess what? A plant, called ‘corn.’ Seasonings are also plant based. That onion powder that we hold so near and dear comes from an onion and onions are plants.
[Let’s have an in-house chat right quick.] Saying “I could never give up meat” as a black person is a slap in the face to your ancestors. It’s intellectually lazy and annoying to hear. Just say that you are too weak to change your habits and you enjoy being sick all the time. If your grandmothers knew that eating heavy gravy on every meat and cooking everything with neck bones and hammocks would contribute to her diabetes and high blood pressure, I promise you that should wouldn’t have eaten or cooked it a much. If our mothers, generations back on the plantations, could have their choices of meat cuts, we wouldn’t be eating chitterlings. But we now know better and we can now do better. We learned seat belts and air bags saved lives, now they’re in every single car you see. We now know these high salt and high fat foods contribute to a host of health problems that affect us at higher rates than everybody else. African-American food is important and we should appreciate it, but I refuse to let it clog my arteries and run up my blood pressure. I’m not saying to never eat meat again, but add some more vegetables that aren’t slathered in gravy or butter. And please do not criticize me for eating more plants and drinking water while you have a quadruple chin with an oxygen tank eating a plate of ribs and potato salad that is more mayo than potato. I prefer to not feel sluggish after my meals. But hey, that is just me.
I’ll just be over here eating my chia pudding with a mountain of fruits, nuts and seeds on top.