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This past weekend, thousands of people around the world from Oakland to Lagos opened their homes, places of worship, and collective spaces to share food and stories with allies and strangers as part of Dream Defenders’ #dayofdinners.
We joined forces with HEAL Food Alliance to gather our community in and around the Bay Area to pull up a chair and pass a plate with us. We hosted our community dinner at the Alena Museum in West Oakland and held our breath to see if people were going to show up – in person! – and connect about what matters to us over a meal. (PSST: it worked!) We shared our migration dishes – food that reminded us of home, family, tradition, or comfort. After some moments of guided reflection, we got ready to share. Each person stood up in a room full of strangers (twenty-something of us) and, with strength in vulnerability, shared the story of their dish. Some stories evoked laughter, others evoked tears.
We even had the pleasure of having Kwesi the Dreamer, a spoken word artist, at our dinner who not only shared his food story, but two original poems as well. We learned so much about each other through the act of sharing food (before we even tried any of it!) and were reminded once again of the power food has to bring people together.
The food itself was delicious, but it all tasted better knowing the personal significance it had to the person who made it. A slice of mango cake was a memory of a mother making sure her child was well-fed. Shepherd’s pie was a journey to find out where one’s family came from. Cauliflower gratin was a generations’ old tradition in times of hardship of creating a variety of dishes from one ingredient.
Our hope with Day of Dinners was to change the narrative by sharing our individual stories, to build community with neighbors we might not have known otherwise. I’d say this one goes down in the books as a success.