It has been pleasing to see Muslims as of late challenging previously held notions of what food represents to Muslims: the “Beyond Halal” movement if you will. And while I have been an advocate of this myself, there are other aspects of the organic food movement that leave me troubled. From urban agriculture to farmer’s markets, food seems to be on everyone’s minds these days and yet the spectre of race and racism still manages to rear its (nearly invisible) head when it comes to these food movements. NPR featured a piece on the alleged land-grab by a white landowner (John Hantz of Hantz Farms) in Detroit, Michigan, who is buying up vacant lots, much to the chagrin of some local black food security advocates. I say all of these because like most important issues in American, Muslims are more often then not irrelevant, due to their agnosticism (what Dr. Sherman Jackson calls racial agnosia) when it comes to race. Ironically, because of Muslim Americans inability to deal with, address and come to grips with the reality of race (which is different than advocating for a racially-hierarchical society), Muslim Americans continue to be cut adrift socially, when in fact, it is one of the primary tools by which they could become anchored and relevant.
To help illustrate how race plays a powerful role in shaping societal norms, I have included an excerpt of the book, Cultivating Food Justice, with the section, “If They Only Knew” by Julie Guthman. If read in the proper light, Guthman’s piece — used as a lens by which other social issues that are effected by race — can be understood.