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“African Americans are innately wired to want to know who we are. Its almost being like an adopted child.”—Sharon Malone, commentator, “Slavery by Another Name.”

A few days ago I almost gave up on The Cooking Gene.  I will admit, I am an impatient man.  I am not attracting significant support from African Americans.  I believed, perhaps, naively that the whole community would see the value and “church up” and put their might and means behind this project.  So many of us are growlingly pissed off when we hear about the Old South availing itself at historic sites and the exclusion of African Americans from history.  I don’t know if its the economy or just an unwillingness to part with Starbucks (and the like) for a few days, but this project has not met with great support from the African American community.  My purpose in being forthright about this is to call attention to the idea that the white people–and others–who are donating to this project are not doing so because they “owe” me or anybody else anything.  They are doing this out of the good of their heart.  They are doing this because they truly believe this history needs to be taught and this story must be told.

If anybody “owes” anybody anything it is our community that owes its children the opportunity to see history written and taught by the winners–that is–we the African American who survived on our Ancestor’s backs to tell the tale.  I thank with all my might, being, mind and soul all of the African American donors thus far.  You get it–you understand that ten dollars now is an incredible investment for our future and for our children and or elders.  It is without limit that I thank you, and I love you for what you’ve shown to me–that you are full of love for me and for this project.  I thank you and my Ancestors thank you.

I have often complained on my blogs and in my talks about this hurtful lack of support from our community.  I have been told by my elders, “thats how it is.”  I cannot and will not accept this though.  Enough is enough.  When I have the opportunity to support and commit my money and mouth to African Americans I do it.  My colleagues and acquaintances know when I rise, they ride.  If I get a dollar, they get some of that dollar.  If I get an opportunity, they get an opportunity.  Our greatest might as a community comes not from reparations—or returns on the pain of our past–but from self-help and self-development coupled with community uplift through cooperative economics.  What fuels that strength is education and inspiration.

Tomorrow night, Blair Underwood’s episode of the hit show, “Who Do You Think You  Are,” will premier with Blair tracing his roots back through slavery, including a slave-holding African American ancestor, and on to West Africa through DNA results.  cannot wait.

I will have my television set to a timer on Friday night and at 8:00 PM I will watch with bated breath the story of Blair Underwood’s family.  I am eager for any details that might help aid my search.  I am desperate to know what I can do to make things work and give this project the sort of rich content that can teach and reach people of all backgrounds.  If you’re looking for an example of the emotional

Because my life, and this issue, is nothing compared to one day in the life of my enslaved Ancestors, I won’t take much of your time complaining.  However, I write this to you, through tears because all around me I see our people suffering for lack of knowledge about themselves and their world and their role in history.  I am tired of people talking about how African American men need to get their sh-t together and not dog our women, pick up a book, work hard, speak “properly,” not do drugs, not sell drugs……stay out of jail…How can you tell any of us that this is the ideal when I am here trying to make that ideal work…and yet I have seen limited support for this work.

I want to believe that my community is reading this and will respond.  I want to have faith in my community.  I have had faith in my community even when I have felt let down.  I have had times where my faith has been restored because somebody took the time to stand up for me and my work.  I want to have faith in my community even as I go to the places where my fathers and mothers died and served against their will.  I want to help other African Americans take this journey and rescue their history for the future’s sake.

I am in love with our history.  It is a passion that nothing, not even my supreme disappointment on days like this.  I have seen hundreds of examples of African Americans buying chintz from China to “honor” President Barack Obama and the First Family.  However, I am living in one of the largest African American metropolitan areas, and one of the most affluent, and this project has little momentum among African Americans.  I have done my best–and my team has done its best to advertise this project.. and we are going to do more.  I cannot let this tour go under before it gets started.  We simply don’t have the luxury of cultural amnesia, nor do we have the luxury of giving our money to the People’s Republic of China while the People’s Republic of African America goes deeper into debt, poverty, mis-education, violence, mass incarceration, unemployment and disenfranchisement.

Right now as I write this, in Prince George’s Maryland there is a fifteen block line going to Prince George’s Plaza, waiting for sneakers–glow in the dark sneakers, Nike Galaxy’s priced at around 220 dollars.  What does it say about Black America when I am struggling to get the word out and fund this project to honor my and our Ancestors while less than 30 minutes from where I sit there is a 15 block line on a winter night for sneakers…that will not make us smarter, honor our past, provide for our future, help us set up an adequate food system, or give us opportunities to be historians, scientists, chefs, teachers, writers, genealogists, agronomists, urban farmers, anthropologists or a host of other important occupations that can aid our future.

Let’s speak in the positive.  This project is going to come to pass one way or the other.  I am not giving up.  I’m sure Nike and Starbucks will make the 8,000 we need in a matter of seconds…but I’m going to keep on pushing on.  However I need your help:

1.  Please donate to our project.  It’s simple, its easy and if just 800 people gave 10 bucks, everything would be good–and we can think about what we need to do for the communities we visit and spread the wealth of knowledge, opportunity and history.   We encourage you to give to your ability….10, 18, 36, and 50 are all below 100 bucks. If you can afford 100 or more–great…..But we have 70 days to fund this project and we need all the help we can get.  And you get stuff for helping us :) 

Here’s the link:  http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Cooking-Gene-Project-The-Southern-Discomfort-Tour

2.  Please tell your church, temple, mosque, Ile, etc.  PLEASE! We need to create buzz about this:

  • PLEASE like us at Michael W. Twitty on Facebook (In terms of selling the idea every like counts….
  • PLEASE follow us on Twitter—  @Koshersoul
  • Please link people to our Indiegogo Campaign page:  http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Cooking-Gene-Project-The-Southern-Discomfort-Tour
  • PLEASE email 10-20 friends about this Project: Here are the links we encourage you to forward.
  • If you have a blog–post this on your blog or website :)

www.thecookinggene.com

www.afroculinaria.com

www.michaelwilliamtwitty.com 

http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Cooking-Gene-Project-The-Southern-Discomfort-Tour

  • PLEASE COMMUNICATE WITH US ON THIS SITE AND SHARE YOUR FAMILY HISTORY AND YOUR STORIES and RECIPES!  The best buzz is when you write in and talk back!  
  • REMEMBER this is for African American farmers, restaurant owners, urban farmers, fishermen, our children who live in food deserts, our elders who have stories to tell but nobody to write them down…..this is for all of us….
I”m counting on my community, I’m counting on you.  Sharon Malone, who is the wife of Eric Holder, and the sister of Vivian Malone who integrated the University of Alabama, made a fantastic point.  We are always looking for where we come from.  And we know from our African wisdom traditions that’s the source of all of our future endeavors.  We have a lot of love and resources to give back to you and we want to see a lot of people.
Want some empowerment to help us and other African American projects out,  check out this inspiring couple:  Check out The Empowerment Experiment:  http://eefortomorrow.com
G-d bless
Michael
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