“[The food program] was one of the biggest and baddest things we ever did.”

Billy X Jennings, Former Panther
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In Unity, There Is Survival Lesson Guide

“In Unity, There is Survival” focuses on the fight for healthy and nutritious food. This struggle is also known as “food justice.” Food justice is a structual view of the food system that aims to see healthy food as a human right and tackles the structual barriers to this rights. In turn, this also intersects with environmental justice, labor movements, and land ownership.

Historical Players

  • 10 Point Program: Created in 1966, the Ten-Point Program was a set of guidelines by the Black Panther Party to state their ideals and ways of operation. These points became the inspiration for other groups, like the Young Lords and Red Guard Party, who were trying to address issues in their own communities. Separated into two categories, these demands often addressed the lack of nutritious food, housing, and education as means for liberation.
  • The Black Panther Party: Formed in 1966, this revolutionary organization aimed to protect Black neighborhoods from police brutality as well as address its own political positioning like economic exploitation of African American communities, social inequality, and historical oppression. In addition, it provided various social programs including free breakfasts for children and medical clinics.
  • Delano Grape Strike: In 1965, these efforts were led by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), a predominantly Filipino organization and a week later, the predominantly Mexican National Farmworkers Association (NFWA). This five year strike gained national attention through a series of consumer boycotts, marches, community organizing, and nonviolent resistance. Ultimately, this strike was successful with pay increase , health, and walfare benefits, affecting more than 10,000 farm workers.
  • Salinas Lettuce Strike: On August 27, 1934, Filipino lettuce cutters and white packing shed workers in Salinas, CA, demanded recognition from unions and improved working conditions. After several weeks of effective striking, the grower-shippers agreed to bargain. This agreement occurred on Saturday night with the bosses stating, “Send your workers back to work immediately and we’ll negotiate on Monday.” Sunday was not a workday, so no one returned to work until Monday. However, when Monday came around, growers negotiated with packing shed representatives, but refused to speak with Filipino representatives because they “violated the agreement to return to work immediately.” As negotiation happened, gangs burned Filipino labor camps and brought in cheap labor to replace the lettuce cutters.
  • Vietnam War: This war between North and South Vietnam lasted between 1955-1975. Due to paranoia of communism, the United States became heavily involved in supporting South Vietnam. During the war, the U.S. used over 20 million gallons of herbicide (known as Agent Orange) over 6 million acres of South Vietnam, to to damage one of Vietnam’s largest export– agriculture. This not only deprived the Vietnamese of their food supply and wildlife, but it also had dangerous human consequences. The chemical warfare linked dioxin exposure, specific human disease, and dioxin-related deformaties. Recently, the Vietnamese governmese asked the U.S. to compensate Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange exposure, but the U.S. refused.

Topic Overview

In 1966, the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, CA. Together, they fought for the recognition and understanding of black people, communities, and power. While slavery had been abolished in 1865, it was widely recognized that their rights to live safely had continuously been violated on a daily basis by the government, law enforcement, medical practices, and more. Guided by their Ten Point Program and belief in radical community work, they set the foundation for free food programs and health clinics around the country. The Black Panthers served over 10,000 children every day before they headed to school. This was a revolution and a threat in the eyes of the American government.

This impact and influence were certainly not lost on Asian Americans. The Black Panthers reached out to political groups like the Red Guard Party, building principled political unity and community solidarity. With their help, free programs for elderly and children were set up in densely populated Asian areas such as Chinatowns and Japantowns. Asian Americans recognized that their community struggles included additional labor abuse and raging wars against Asian countries, etc. In Delano, the poor working conditions and little pay left workers powerless and starving. From 1965 to 1970, strikes intensified up and down the coast of California. Larry Itliong, Phillip Vera Cruz, and Cesar Chavez rose to leadership for Filipino and Latinx workers. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, chemical warfare affected at least 4 million people. With nearly 20 million gallons of Agent Orange being sprayed on forests, rivers, crops, and towns, the whole ecosystem and lives involved were greatly damaged. Forty-five years after the war, Southeast Asia still feels its repercussions. 

IN UNITY, THERE’S SURVIVAL highlights the struggle for basic human rights amongst marginalized communities.

Packaging Food

Observation

  • Analyze these two elements of the picture.
  • What are they? What details can you pick out? How do you know?

Salinas Lettuce Strike

Observation

  • What are they doing?
  • How do you know?
  • Generally, how do you think farmworkers are treated on the fields (economics, ethics, etc)?

Reflection

  • What is your favorite food?
  • What ingredients does it require?
  • Who is involved from the farm to the table?

10 Point Program (I)

Read this text.

Observation

  • What does it mean?
  • Who do you think wrote this?
  • Why did they write this?
  • What emotions come to you?

Reflection

  • Who is in your community? Describe who they are. What do they sound like? Look like?
  • What are some issues they deal with?
  • How can you help?

10 Point Program (II)

Read this text.

Observation

  • What does it mean?
  • Why did they choose these seven items to “want”?
  • Analyze each demand. What is the significance of them? What do they say individually? What do they say separately?

Reflection

  • List out all the things you need to live. Narrow them down to seven items. What are they? Why did you choose them?

In Unity, There Is Survival

Observation

  • What does it mean?
  • Do you agree or disagree?
  • How does it relate or not relate to your community? Explain.

Discussing Art

  • What is the artist’s message?
  • What is the story that’s being told?
  • What colors did the artist use? Why so?
  • What are three (3) strengths of this poster?
  • What are three (3) weaknesses of this poster?
  • What questions do you have about this piece?

Follow Up Questions

  • Where does food come from? How does it get to you?
  • What is the relationship between privilege, poverty, and consumption?
  • What happens when you have nutritious food in your community? What happens when you do not?
  • Who has the responsibility to help? Why so? What benefits do they receive? Develop a pitch on why people should get involved.
  • What neighborhood do you live in? Describe it. Are streets paved? Are there trees? Are there gardens? Do people hang around on the streets?
  • What food did you grow up eating? Can food connect to your surroundings? How so?
  • What must change so that all people can live a healthy lifestyle?
  • In small groups, research to see what food justice issues are occurring in your community. What communities suffer the most? Why so? What organizations are doing work to help? What solutions are they proposing? Based on your own research, what solution can you propose?
  • Come up with a call-to-action on how students like yourself can become more involved in the food justice movement.
  • Because of these historical moments and players, what do we know now that we did not know before? What will you do so that future generations can stand on your shoulders?

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