1977: Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer BY JUNE JORDAN
But that took courage
just to sit there/target
to the killers lookin
for your singin face
perspirey through the rinse
you stood mighty in the door on James Street
“BULLETS OR NO BULLETS!
THE FOOD IS COOKED
AN’ GETTIN COLD!”
A family tremulous but fortified
like the lilies
filled to the very living
one solid gospel
one full Black lily
in a homemade field
The fortified podcast is a living archive chronicling the healing and revolutionary power of food as experienced by immigrants, refugees, and people of color across multiple diasporas. Co-created by:
Patricia was a picky eater growing up, but slowly learned how to eat more than just soy sauce and rice. Her love of food began when she started to reimagine the area she grew up in, Argyle Street, a historic Southeast Asian American community also known as a port of entry for immigrants and refugees in Chicago. Meditating on food offered Patricia another way to understand the relationship between the senses, the body, migration, war, histories of colonialism/imperialism, and modes of every day resilience. Growing up conversations around food were always tied to conditions of limitations and possibilities under poverty, war, forced migration, refugee resettlement, and connecting with others. She is still learning how to cook, the politics of foodways, and how to enjoy food/cooking/gardening as a meditative practice.
Imani Elizabeth Jackson
Here is my family: Angeline made the best split pea soup, cream of wheat, spaghetti (perfect taste of sugar in the sauce!), and stovetop apples. Angeline taught us apple pie and sugar cravings in her house in Englewood. Willie Mae makes a mean jelly cake and will take its recipe to her grave, per a pact she made, despite all our pleading (now that’s loyalty). Brenetta’s economy, and she loves ice cream which is a familial endeavor via her uncle and her father (who churned and made it up in Bronzeville); my mother grew up with ice cream in her cereal and I grew up adding cherries to the storebought til I learned to make my own. My father loves persimmons, Sunny’s gumbo is untouchable. Thank you Dolly for the mac and cheese and mother for black-eyed peas. I’ve been slow-striding, through these culinary feats, to think about movement, and where we come from, and generosity. For all in our wrists and tongues are Mississippi, Louisiana, and we are Chicago-north now, and dispersed, and dispersing.
For me, food is foraging in evergreen forests of Belarus with my family; hunting for brown capped porcini, wild strawberries, tart blueberries, avoiding the wrath of krapiva, the scars of trenches, grenade shells and tanks, Baba Yaga. It’s my grandmother Polya’s guilt over eating a beet meant to feed her family of eight while 10 million starved during Ukraine’s forced famines. It’s my great uncle Boris’s latkes, baked fresh over stories of trains hijacked in the night, escaping Poland as a teenager, after his family perished in the Blitzkrieg. It’s my parents waiting in line for bread and finding empty shelves at the collapse of the Soviet Union; arriving in the US dumbfounded by endless aisles of vapid white Wonder, with no rye in sight. It’s banana boats stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate chips to the tune of Girl Scout singalongs roasted in the campfires of Flying G Ranch. It’s potlucks in galleries, rooftops, abandoned bootlegger caves, and lion cages; an endless yearning to piece together memory, culture, community, and home.
Photos courtesy of Irina Zadov.