A Message from the Food First Board President
As Nigerian novelist Chimananda Ngozi Adichie wisely counsels: “The danger of a single story” is that it makes one incomplete story the only story. One of the concerns that I have chosen to address in this brief statement is the portrait being painted by loud voices privileging a single story of the Food First Board of Directors as incompetent, uncaring, biased, micromanaging, selfish and hostile toward the staff. What I am able to state is that these characterizations could not be further from the truth and are deeply unfair to our board members who have been tirelessly focused on sustaining the organization’s mission for many years and through various challenges.
To that end, I also wanted to share briefly who I am, which informs my service to Food First and my leadership of the board. As a proud African American woman, longtime activist researcher, higher education administrator and education professor who has devoted my professional life and scholarship to understanding and overcoming white supremacy and racism, it is my honor to serve Food First with integrity and passion for food justice.
As a daughter of share croppers and farm workers who migrated from Oklahoma to pick cotton in California’s central valley during the Great Depression, I understand personally the importance of the organization’s mission to end the injustices that cause hunger.
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Everything I am and everything that I do is based on lessons I learned from my parents and my community about treating all people with dignity and fairness, the discrimination I have experienced throughout my life as a Black woman and the extensive knowledge I have gained about justice from my education, career, research and global relationships. Consequently, I can state unequivocally that all matters the board of directors has dealt with during my tenure have consistently affirmed and demonstrated that we value and respect diversity, racial justice, truthfulness and transparency. I categorically reject accusations that the board of directors has engaged in or condoned racial bias or workplace hostility towards staff or anyone at Food First. Such actions are not only illegal but morally repugnant.
It is particularly gratifying to serve alongside other African American, Indigenous and European American board members with impeccable reputations, unwavering integrity and a wealth of expertise. In addition, the skills and experience of four individuals who have been elected to join the board effective August 1st will help further align our board with established best practices for non-profit board development.
At this time of crisis in the world, when Black, Latinx and Indigenous people are dying from the global health pandemic and the pandemic of racial violence in the U.S., Food First is even more vitally needed. I invite all people of good will and rational thinking to redouble your support for the organization because you understand the importance of our mission and want to be part of the solution to addressing food justice.
Dr. Joyce E. King
President, Food First Board of Directors
B.A. with Honors and Ph.D., Stanford University
2018 Stanford Graduate School of Education Alumni Excellence in Education Award
2015 President, The American Educational Research Association
Photo by Carrington Morris