Free online summit celebrates African American Wisdom



It can be discouraging, even heartbreaking, to hear about the pain and suffering our global family members are experiencing — in our neighborhoods, home towns and all over the world.

With so much focus on all that’s wrong with our world, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we have visionaries, community leaders and citizens who are performing great acts of love, compassion and service every single day — forging new pathways and presenting innovative solutions for these challenging times.

And so many of these who exemplify humanity’s extraordinary potential draw their soul-powered strength, creativity and brilliance from African American wisdom.

This special event provides a truly unique way to participate in Black History Month… as we’ll be honoring history AND visioning our future. Members of every race will come together to address the injustices and traumas while also celebrating the positive steps being taken to create a society where EVERYONE thrives.

Additionally, we’ll cherish the unique flavors, traditions and spiritual wisdom that African Americans (and others of the African Diaspora) contribute to our society throughout the year, through wise leadership, profound artistry, words of truth and inspired actions that transcend what we believe to be possible.


Too often, we define our conversation about African Americans around the challenges of racism and injustice, which — while important — can distract us from appreciating the amazing gifts, blessings and knowledge that have emerged from this rich culture.

Some of America’s greatest leaders — in realms from social change to spirituality to entertainment to business — have emerged out of a history of oppression.

In The African American Wisdom Summit, bright lights will be sharing their secrets to success as well as the practices and traditions that sustained them during the most challenging moments on their personal journeys.

Speakers include:

  • LeVar Burton shares on the power of merging education and entertainment as well as the responsibility to spread the love of reading to new generations.
  • Cynthia James brings to light the importance of Radical Self Care while healing wounds of self-worth and histories of personal and collective community trauma.
  • Sonya Renee Taylor reveals how radical self love is essential for global justice work.
  • Luisah Teish takes you on an ancestral journey to help you crack the code of your inherited genius.
  • Shariff Abdullah, Founder & Executive Director, Commonway Institute, Topic: Your Role in Creating A World for All

Moving Toward Global Unity

It’s difficult to talk about the huge racial divide taking place in America and across the planet, however this is THE most important conversation we as humanity can be having. During The African American Wisdom Summit, we’ll not only be opening up an honest dialogue and global conversation on race, we’ll also be identifying clear ways for you to create sustainable changes.

This global gathering is not only for African Americans, but for every citizen of the world who wishes to be blessed, transformed and bear witness to the flowering of real genius, great love, and profound wisdom.

During this groundbreaking month-long event, you’ll discover:

  • Accessible, soul-powered practices you can use in your daily life to support personal and collective healing and evolution
  • A deeper awareness of the the African American experience and the unspoken power dynamics People of Color face every day
  • Inspirational stories of individuals making positive shifts (large and small!) despite facing racism
  • Self-care, creativity and other restorative practices that can help you sustain inspired action in social justice work
  • Effective ways to integrate the wisdom that is naturally, organically and authentically within you and your community
  • The importance of economic empowerment for individuals, families and communities
  • Innovative insights for social healing, bridging divides and fostering unity and collaboration
  • A fascinating look at the embodied, holistic, spiritual healing traditions of Africa and the African diaspora
  • The history of the use of music and dance to raise the vibration of the body in spiritual rituals, economic endeavors and political resistance
  • All the joy, the passion and the beauty of being African American, and how that is reflected in our world


Women of Color Cook Eat & Talk: How White Allies Can Help Undo Racism

Cabbil & Roos
6 – 8 p.m. Thursday Feb. 11
Sherman Street Church,
1000 Sherman St. SE 49507
Free & Open to All!

Our Kitchen Table is merging two of its mainstay event series, Cook, Eat & Talk and Women of Color
Convenings into one series offered quarterly during 2016. Women of Color Cook, Eat & Talk kicks off with an exciting program facilitated by two veterans of the Civil Rights era who remain very active in their own fields today. The event organizers invite any and all community members to enjoy what is bound to be an empowering evening.

Lila Cabbil worked alongside Rosa Parks as the program director in the organization founded by Mrs. Parks to honor her husband (an activist), The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute. She has worked in the tradition of Mrs. Parks for more than 40 years, and is
now President Emeritus of the Institute. Lila was born in Durham, North Carolina and raised in Detroit. She continues to work for racial justice, environmental justice, water rights and food justice in Detroit. Lila co-edited the book, Accountability and White
Anti-racist Organizing
, which was published in 2010.

Barbara Roos  traveled to Mississippi to stand with African Americans working for civil rights, specifically voting rights. Then a filmmaker with the University of Michigan, she helped document the times, with the hope that the local people involved would be able to learn to create their own media. She joined academia from an award-winning career in public broadcasting, both television and radio.  She founded Grand Valley State University’s Film & Video Program, where she was a professor until just last year. Barbara currently facilitates a script writing workshop through the WKTV Digital Cinema Guild.

To begin the program, OKT cooking coaches will demo a healthy recipe and serve samples. Following the dialogue, OKT invites participants to remain for a session of Yoga Nidra, a relaxation practice offering deep rest and opportunity to set deep intentions as we work to create a better world together.

Our Kitchen Table presents its event at no cost to community members thanks to a grant from the W K Kellogg Foundation, which has again been renewed for the 2016 calendar year.

2016 Community Calendar of Free Events!

OKT is happy to announce another full year of enlightening and socially engaged events. All events are open to the public at no charge. OKT may be adding more garden education events as the growing season progresses so check back here and on our Facebook page. Better yet, contact us if you’d like to receive our monthly e-newsletter.

Community Calendar 2016 online 12 1

Check out our online resources

Food Policy for Food Justice WOMEN OF COLOR online 2OKT invites you to take a minute to explore the free resources available to you  here on our website. When you click on our “Education Resources” link, you’ll not only find information about our organization, but also a variety of handouts and healthy recipes that we want to share far and wide … and freely.

Food Justice Series

The OKT food justice series, “Food Policy for Food Justice” provides quick overviews on many food justice topics, everything from “What is Food Justice?” and “Women of COlor and the Fight for Food Justice” to “Food Justice and Farmers’ Markets” and “GMOs and Food Justice.” You can read the series online, share the links or download and print the printable versions to use in your own food justice work.


Asian ABbage Kale stir fryOver the past six years, OKT has hosted numerous events and cooking demos. For each, we develop our own healthy recipes using in-season, affordable, nutrient-dense foods. We’ll be uploading even more recipes soon!

Handouts & Zines

On this page, you’ll find great information on growing food gardens, composting soil and  saving seeds as well as information and suggestions for making the best use of fresh produce. For younger readers, there are zines about healthy snacks, seed sovereignty and “Loving the Girl Within.”


In the coming weeks, OKT plans to add many more resources to this page . After all, it’s our slow season and we might even have tome to get caught up! We hope you will check back here often and make FREE use of these resources we have worked hard to create. And, if you do use them, let us know how they helped your family or your work for justice where you live.

Michigan’s pollution crisis shows black lives do not matter

Detroit’s most polluted and predominantly black neighborhood is on the verge of a health catastrophe worse than Flint’s

rtx1z1ep-crop-promovar-mediumlargeJanuary 17, 2016 2:00AM ET  

On Jan. 15, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette vowed to investigate the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, to determine whether any state laws were broken, resulting in lead contamination.

“The situation in Flint is a human tragedy in which families are struggling with even the most basic parts of daily life,” he said in a statement. “While everyone acknowledges that mistakes were made, my duty as attorney general requires that I conduct this investigation.”

Schuette’s announcement came a day after Gov. Rick Snyder asked President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency in Flint and for disaster relief assistance. Flint has been overwhelmed by a preventable lead-contaminated water crisis.

On Jan. 13, Snyder activated the state’s National Guard to help with his office’s response to the crisis. State health officials are looking to determine if a spike in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the Flint area is linked to the city’s drinking water.

None of these issues came as a surprise for residents of Detroit’s Boynton neighborhood. The 48217 ZIP code is the most polluted in Michigan. The crisis in Flint was compounded after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) repeatedly dismissed complaints from residents about dirty tap water.

As in Flint, the DEQ has dismissed Boynton residents’ complaints about pollution and respiratory issues. Many of them sleep with surgical masks to block toxins from tar sand refining that engulf their homes daily. It is common for Detroiters to wake up with low-grade headaches; many rely on asthma inhalers to quiet persistent hacking coughs that are not from colds.

This is how we live in Boynton in 2016 — coping with irritating sores in the nose, constantly registering complaints to the DEQ about pollution to no avail, sharing dire news with neighbors about newly diagnosed health maladies — such as kidney failure, autoimmune diseases and cancer — and early deaths.

Boynton residents live with fear of early death due to chemical exposure from the nearby massive Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery, which in 2012 underwent a $2.2 billion expansion and processes filthy bitumen and tar sands from Alberta, Canada.

The DEQ ignored numerous complaints about the refinery, saying, it “is in compliance with emission release numbers.” In fact, the agency may soon approve Marathon’s request for new permits, which would increase emissions for several air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, small particulate pollution and sulfuric acid mist.

As Michigan’s leaders grapple with the horrific effects of lead-poisoned water in Flint, they must also act to avoid an impending catastrophe facing yet another black neighborhood.

Industrial smokestacks surround the Boynton neighborhood. “The average toxic burden score among Michigan ZIP codes is 56, and the middle, or median, score of Michigan ZIP codes is 18,” according to an analysis of pollution levels by University of Michigan researchers. “The ZIP code with the greatest toxic burden, 48217 in Detroit, had a score of 2,576.”

In 2011 the Sierra Club’s environmental justice program coordinator, Leslie Fields, labeled an area including Boynton “a sacrifice zone for energy production.” It is tragic that the DEQ continues to sacrifice public health for corporations interested only in improving their bottom lines and for the state’s tax revenues.

Boynton is already in nonattainment” for federal standards on sulfur dioxide (SO2), one of the leading causes of asthma and other respiratory diseases. The neighborhood has the highest rate of asthma in the state, and Detroit ranks in the top 10 among U.S. cities.

This is why it is deeply troubling to learn that the DEQ is close to approving Marathon’s revised pollution permit. The proposal would increase SO2 emissions by more than 20 tons per year. Allowing additional SO2 emissions in Boynton, where children already cling to asthma inhalers, is preposterous.

Boynton residents hoped that the Environmental Protection Agency would not agree to increase SO2 emission levels. After all, Michigan is under federal mandate to lower its SO2 emission rate. But we were wrong. The EPA has approved Marathon’s request, claiming air toxins will increase by less than 1 percent. The EPA says 770 lives can be saved annually by 2030 if Marathon removes the SO2 in its reformulated fuel, which necessitated the increase in emissions. In effect, the agency is sacrificing our lives for others’.

There is a racial component to Michigan’s ongoing woes. As with Flint, Boynton’s residents are predominantly African-American and low income. It is inconceivable to think that the DEQ and EPA would make similar determinations in a wealthy, white neighborhood and sacrifice their children. The underlying message is clear: Black lives do not matter.

The DEQ must scrap Marathon’s requests to increase SO2 emissions in an already polluted community. As Michigan’s leaders grapple with the horrific effects of lead-poisoned water in Flint, they must also act to avoid an impending catastrophe facing yet another black neighborhood.


Emma Lockridge has lived most of her life in Detroit’s 48217 ZIP code, home to an oil refinery and major polluting industries. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

GVSU hosting community workshop with Patrisse Cullors Wednesday

Today, Our Kitchen Table remembers the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. May we all move forward in that spirit of justice and compassion throughout 2016.

cullorsIn conjunction with GVSU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week Celebration, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, will facilitate a dialogue with local community activists about organizing for social justice  from 3 to 4 p.m.on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at Grand Valley State University Pere Marquette Room, Kirkhof Center, Allendale campus.

Community activists and organizers who would like to attend should RSVP to Melissa Baker-Boosamra, GVSU Office of Student Life ( Your RSVP will also grant you a parking pass.

Following the community workshop, Ms. Cullors will present a 4:30 p.m. keynote presentation in the Grand River Room, Kirkhof Center, Allendale campus, which will be simulcast to an audience at Eberhard Center, Telecommunications Auditorium, Pew Campus, Grand Rapids.

On Saturday Jan. 28, Our Kitchen Table will host a group of GVSU students as part of the commemoration’s MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity. For a list of all the week’s events, click here.