Jan 17, 2018
30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Ashleigh Eubanks, Food Justice Organizer
Most Likely to: Have a deep and heartfelt conversation with you upon meeting you
Favorite Quote: “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin
Ashleigh Eubanks is a woman of few words. Not because she has nothing to say, but because there’s so much that needs to be done—and she’s doing it. She’s an instrumental member of the Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System (SOS) Collective, an anti-violence program led by and for LGBTQs of color, “devoted to challenging hate and police violence by using community based strategies.” With work so heavily concerned about the vulnerability of the body, it makes sense that her life’s work roots itself with what we put in them. As a food justice organizer, she advocates for healthier and affordable food access for the central Brooklyn community, and spends her free time organizing community knowledge shares around food preservation and healthy food preparation. Ashleigh commits herself to this work because she understands that the revolution doesn’t need to be televised to be properly fed.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
I work as a Food Justice Organizer. What I love most about the work I do now is that its rooted in things that I have done most of my life. I love food and I am an activist. My paid job is as a Food Justice Organizer at a Community Development Corporation in Bed-Stuy. I’m also deeply involved in other organizing work, specifically around safety for queer and trans folks of color. So I usually use the terms “paid work” and “life work.”
When did your occupation become real to you? Like, you knew this was what you were going to do?
I have been involved in social change work since I was a teen and I always had this love for food and value of health and wellness on the side. They existed as two separate things for me until a couple of years ago when I participated in Soul Fire Farm’s Black and Latinx Farm immersion program. It was a transformative moment for me. I was like “Wow! These folks are farmers and organizers!” and they are doing really important work with the land and the people. From that moment, I knew I needed to be plugged into this Food justice/food sovereignty movement.
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?
I am fortunate enough to live, work and organize in the same neighborhood. I’m not originally from Bed-Stuy and that’s important to own. When I first moved here, parts of it reminded me of the neighborhood I grew up in. I think it’s very important to invest in our communities and the people that have been here. All of the work that I do is neighborhood focused.
What do you feel is most challenging about being where you are now?
Being ok with where I am at. Most of us, especially those involved in any sort of social change or organizing work especially, know the feeling of not feeling like you are doing enough. Sometimes I get too critical and it can make me stagnant.
What’s most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing about where I am now is definitely the relationships that I have built. I have a genuine love for people and I’m blessed to do work that I do in community. My colleagues are more like comrades and friends and I really believe that strengthens the work.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
Brooklyn Movement Center in Bed Stuy
The Audre Lorde Project Office in Fort Greene
Mayday Space in Bushwick
BK Rot in Bushwick
All of the amazing Community Gardens
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
Simply existing in this time as a queer black woman who grew up struggling.
Who/what inspires you?
My family most definitely. Blood fam and chosen fam are all phenomenal beings
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
Having dinner parties with my friends talking politics, faith and sex—surrounded by love.
What’s next for you?
Not sure yet. I’m excited to see for myself!
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