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Jocelyn Jackson Transcipt

 Jocelyn Jackson of People’s Kitchen Collective

Tiffani Rozier: Welcome to the first episode of the Afros + Knives Podcast miniseries on Radio Cherry Bombe. I am your host, Tiffani Rozier, and I am the host and creator of the Afros + Knives Podcast, a weekly interview series that features Black women who work and lead in food and beverage, hospitality, food justice, and food media. I created this series because I wanted to hear the stories of women who worked in food and looked like me.

Over the past 15 years, I have always noted the absence of our voices. And I wanted to make sure that any chef that came behind us knew we were here. The process of doing the show has been transformative. And as you listen to the conversations featured in this miniseries, I hope your mind is challenged and your heart is full. To hear more interviews like these subscribe to the Afros + Knives Podcast.

New episodes are available every week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Luminary. Or you can visit the Afros + Knives website, listen to the shows, subscribe to the newsletter, and possibly join the book club. Whatever you do, you are now officially a part of the flyest clique in podcasting. Thank you so much for listening.

On today's episode, I'll be bringing you my conversation with Jocelyn Jackson, the creative force behind JUSTUS Kitchen and the People's Kitchen Collective in Oakland, California. Her passion for seasonal food, social justice, creativity, and community is the heartbeat of her work. Her background in fine art, law, environmental education, and projects that took her to West Africa and southern India inform the work she does for her beloved community.

She shares with me how her experiences have shaped belief that food is a powerful tool of liberation and an expression of love. Thank you to the folks that Traeger Grills for supporting this very special episode of Afros + Knives. We appreciate you so much. I'll be right back with Jocelyn Jackson after this word from Traeger Grills.

It's summertime and I love to get out of the kitchen and light up the grill. Nothing makes me happier than fire, a little smoke, and a really good char. Okay, maybe one thing makes me happier, and that's Traeger Wood Fired Grills sponsoring the Afros + Knives miniseries, on Radio Cherry Bombe. I know great cooking requires great tools and Traeger makes the best selling wood fired grills around. Having a Traeger grill sets you up to master the art of cooking outdoors.

In addition, Traeger is making a special donation to support Kia Feeds the People, a program founded by Chef Kia Damon to fight hunger and food apartheid in Brooklyn, New York. Through education outreach and the redistribution of resources, Kia Feeds the People aids to empower and encourage self-sustainability. The Traeger team worked with Chef Kia last summer at a Cherry Bombe event and they are proud to support her work ensuring that everyone has access to the nourishment they deserve.

If you'd like to learn more about Kia's initiative, visit And to learn more about Traeger, visit, and be sure to sign up for their pro classes and to grab a few new recipes while you're there. And now, here's my conversation with Jocelyn Jackson of JUSTUS Kitchen and the People's Kitchen Collective.

Well, Jocelyn thank you again for joining me this morning, on this Juneteenth morning. Let's hear a little bit more about your background. You can just formally introduce yourself to the folks out here, to the people.

Jocelyn Jackson: Thank you so much, Tiffani. It's really an honor to be a part of this podcast recording for Afros + Knives. It is such a joy to be part of this food community, and by that I mean this food community specifically represented by Black women, because it is at the heart of the work that I do. Again, my name is Jocelyn Jackson, I am the co-founder of People's Kitchen Collective, and I'm also the founder of JUSTUS Kitchen.

And what that means is that I have the ability to enter into the food community from two very different directions. One with People's Kitchen Collective is the chance to feed beloved community at a large scale, really at the intersection of food, art, and social justice. And that really looks like community meals that are sometimes 100 people in a warehouse setting, celebrating the relationships between movements.

A specific example is the executive orders that created both the Japanese internment and the Muslim ban and having folks from both of those communities at the table talking about how that can never happen again. It's also experiences with kitchen remedies, whether that's an art installation or a new way of having a remedy stand where we're sharing our remedies with one another.

These opportunities to be with community in finding ways that our flavors of home in the centering of the lived experience of Black and brown folks can really lead to collective liberation. And with JUSTUS Kitchen, I go the opposite direction. And by that, I mean I get to do one-on-one experiences specifically with Black women and families. And that's a moment for there to be a real opportunity for healing food experiences that really incorporate the cultural, the ecological, and the sacred relationships that we have with food.

And I really take a lot of really specific time to curate those experiences to be very customized to the person's experience, but also to incorporate the ingredients from the continent, and also from the South and the traditions and the recipes that flow from those stories. And it's just a beautiful time to be able to honor each Black woman and finding their journey, of being in this world that is often so against us, but always, always having the opportunity to celebrate and claim our joy in the process.

Tiffani Rozier: Well, I just want to thank you for the work that you do. I think people forget that even if you work with someone individually or working with a community that the effects of that spreads globally, it affects all of humankind. And so thank you so much for your work and your contribution. And I wanted to dig in a little bit into the JUSTUS Kitchen experiences that you have created, like so beautifully and so thoughtfully.

And there is one that I was particularly interested in starting with, is that the 29 Days of Justus, I just wanted to hear a bit more about like how that looks and what was your, for the way these programs have rolled out and what your intentions were for each one.

Jocelyn Jackson: Thank you so much for highlighting that, it's so close to my heart, and I really do appreciate that question of, "what is the why?" And it's something that I have had to focus on as I've developed, not only this cohesion amongst all of my lived experience, but also in the authenticity and integrity of that expression in my offerings.

And really at the heart of it is this line, this through line of first starting off as a fine arts student, then becoming an attorney, then going to Africa and living there for two years as a natural resource management volunteer, and then coming back and saying, there's something still left and that's environmental education, and I got my Masters of Science in that area.

All of those things feel disparate, but they're not because food is what I was finally told by my community, "Do you understand that this is the common denominator of your life and your experience?" Like, "Yes, I do." But I didn't understand it was an offering that I could give, that it was not only an offering, but it was a longing of my community to offer.

And so once I had that clarity, I went in deep about this idea that is no longer... Can no longer rest in the world of idea that needs to be manifested and embodied which is collective liberation of our beloved community. And with that as the heartbeat, 29 Days of Justus is very apparent to me as a way to be in that world of manifestation and embodiment.

It's a process that I developed that really gets to the heart of our opportunity to every day, be very thoughtful and aware and reflective at the process of what it means for us to be intentional in the things that we do with our body and our mind and our spirit. To be more whole, to be more free, to be more liberated. Food is such an essential gateway to that conversation and that experience.

And whether it's blessings or readings, or meditations or recipes, or stories, all of these guided experiences allow for more possibility and power in the way that we interact with food. And those stories and flavors being part of not only our struggle, but our survival and our celebration, and our reclaiming of the freedom that we innately have as human beings.

That is what I want to provide for my community. For my Black community and specifically, for my Black women and femmes, because there's just something essential in being able to uplift the folks that are most at risk, the folks that are most disrespected the folks that the power of them is not acknowledged in a way that feels so obvious to me. So, it feels really important to provide that kind of offering in this moment, but it's something that feels like a family tradition as well.

It feels like some ancestors said for me to do in my life. And I'll say yes to that. And really grateful that 29 Days of Justus is expanding into a full 365 day guided journal. So, it's going to be something that folks can really be with for the entire year, because it is a commitment that is that important.

Tiffani Rozier: Wow. That's incredible. I was having a conversation about how sacred Black food ways are. And we were discussing, I'm going to say I was talking with Therese Nelson from Black Culinary about how rewinding back maybe two weeks before a lot of like Black businesses and Black brands and Black organizations were on anyone's radars but our own. There's been this kind of growing momentum for a lot of people.

I know I woke up from Monday to Thursday, and my presence has grown exponentially. And it was like really overwhelming. It felt disingenuous initially, it was really tough to process going from maybe 400 people on an Instagram and a handful of people on Twitter, and like your community really growing at an organic pace to all of a sudden this huge influx of people who are essentially people that are outside of your community that don't usually share space with you.

I was looking at other of the other people in this tribe of food folks, and watching them all kind of process it the same way I was processing because I originally was like my initial thought was like, "Ooh, okay, am I going to have to like change some things? Am I going to have to like do code switching?" And like I thought about like Toni Morrison and when she talked about how when she wrote, she didn't want to write with the white gaze in mind. She wanted to just write.

And I had that same moment. I was just like, "Oh my gosh, there's a lot of eyes all of a sudden, and I don't know how to manage this." And so, I expressed to Therese, like, my biggest issue or my biggest challenge right now is that I fear the intrusion of our spaces. And I felt very protective, and I wanted to make sure that the sacredness of our spaces were maintained.

I wrote a quick Instagram post just to like the newer followers, just to remind them that as they discover new things, new people, and they connect to new communities to please keep in mind that those communities existed before their discovery of them. And that you have permission to enter but you don't have permission to colonize or gentrify spaces.

That you have to remember that they're sacred for a reason, and that their gatekeepers will be very protective of those spaces after the general shelter in place, orders have been lifted for just about everywhere. And the Black restaurants that managed to survive the COVID-19 crisis are open again, and they open their door to the general public, by all means. Please go spend your dollars there, because that's what those businesses need, but at the same time, remember that those are community spaces that those spaces are constantly influxed, and they just don't operate as restaurants. They operate as places of connection, places of worship, places of protection. You know, those are places that essentially the job is to feed the community and not just in a traditional restaurant format.

But overall, I mean, they become after-school spaces, they become places for people to come get a free hot meal when they don't have one. So just to honor that when you go into those places. So, I loved reading about like JUSTUS Kitchen and the People's Kitchen Collective because it just was like it echoed that sentiment that I have about like Black food spaces. I think just traditionally, it's in our DNA to elevate our food and our eating experiences to those kind of very spiritual places. And it's not something that typically happens in traditional kind of Eurocentric Western culture. It's really interesting to like, see that as a lot of the food justice organizations have popped up, especially the ones whelmed by Black folks. They're very, kind of like holy spaces. And they the work is In that vein as well. And so, I didn't want to like circle back on the fact that you lived in Africa for two years. What did you notice between how food is approached here versus like what was happening in conversations and spaces around food there?

Jocelyn Jackson: It's such a good question. Because there's really a transition that happened in my mind and heart there that I think would have been impossible without that experience. There is something fundamental that shifted in me when I was given the opportunity to spend two years in West Africa, specifically Mali. I did go there through Peace Corps, which is a complicated relationship in itself. Luckily, I was in a country that didn't have the same amount of oversight as other Peace Corps programs around the world. So, I was able to have quite autonomous experience. And it gave me access that is so rare within the experience of a home going trip. I was able to spend two years in a village in the hottest area of the country, which is Kayes Region, and I had a host family and I lived in a house that was adobe mud covered with a straw roof.

It was all the things that I wanted to know about the origins of my ancestry that was ripped from me in the Middle Passage. I needed this home going trip. I needed to be put back together in some ways, I needed to have the experience of finally being surrounded by Black people, and the grace and the love and also the heartache of that. Because what this experience taught me was the simultaneity of holding joy and sorrow.

If I'm not able to be in that place, and to honor that space simultaneously, I'm just not able to be the Black woman that I want to be in this world, who is being of service to beloved community and collective liberation. And so it was a hard one and very, very important and necessary lesson.

And that being said, to your question of what that experience was in contrast to being in food community here. I was released, finally, from the idea that whiteness was at the center of food. I was released from this experience of the canon of culinary history is one based in a Eurocentric viewpoint. And I am so grateful for that because I was able to reclaim the expertise of my aunties who were cooking rice and sauce on the street, who had the opportunity to feed everyone that walked by, with not only delicious food, but also the authenticity of a lived experience that was absolutely paired to survival and to the heritage of the ingredients and of the personality of a cuisine that isn't separated from the people, isn't bogged down in the attention to technique over relationship. And I can't even tell you how beautiful that was.

And I say this very clearly because it's some of the work of our time to unlearn. Oh my gosh, the great unlearning of white supremacy. And the re-centering of our lived experience, and the experience of our ancestors are central to not only our own lives, but the reality of this entire globe, and where we stand in it. And I'm grateful that I had the two years to do that. And also to, as another point, be introduced to foods like the peanut rice, black eyed pea in the field, and not just on the plate. I was able to grow these foods along with my host family. That was another moment of access that I hadn't had before. And I was able to research the Moringa oleifera tree.

It's often characterized as the miracle tree. It is a tree that is adapted to Africa, and it's changing environmental circumstance by having the deepest of tap roots, and so much strength in the face of a desert that is slowly moving south, from the North Africa South. And it is a tree where every part of it is finding for us some healing or some nutritious value that leaves the seed pods, the roots, they all have a purpose.

They all have a power to them. And so being in Africa, I had the opportunity to see that up close, and to be humble and the experience of getting exposure and access to this information that has again been separated for so long, in so many ways from continent to continent. And I was able to get angry about that, I really appreciate the anger and the rage that we can have around being separated from our food ways.

Being separated from such incredible indigenous and traditional knowledge. And it is important, I think, for each of us to have that experience in some way. And that's what I bring to JUSTUS Kitchen and People's Kitchen Collective as well.

Tiffani Rozier: I love your point about, kind of that great unlearning. I think that's a big part of like as we all collectively in the national discourses around kind of this anti-racism work about how oppression affects the oppressor as well. And I think because that part of the conversation is now just beginning. And people are seeing how like white supremacy and systemic racism affects the folks who initially benefit from it.

Where they find like, for me, the damage far outweighs the benefits. And to unlearn, everyone's in this process of unlearning and kind of deprogramming and decolonizing and all the things at this point. And for the Black community, that we have that same process of unlearning that we have to engage in. We have to unlearn you know the way we interact with each other and the way that we eat and the way that we move in the world.

There's always that before and after and so now you’re after produced beautiful things like JUSUTS Kitchen and beautiful things like the People's Kitchen Collective. So what did your before look like? How did you come to food after law school and a master's degree and everything else? For me, food was kind of the same thing. It was almost like a program running in the background like the computer.

It was always there, it was ever-present. There was always a shadow in the background of my life. And then finally, there's always a catalyst that pushes it to the forefront. So, what was your what was that catalyst for you? What was that turning point? When did you kind of turn the corner and become very intentional about producing food and feeding people?

Jocelyn Jackson: I am a Midwesterner. I am from the prairies of Kansas. And that's so much a part of my food story and my food journey. My mother was the eldest of 13 children. And we had the opportunity because of that size of a family, to enjoy the celebration of food together in a way that was so incredible. And was always paired with song because my mother and her siblings were the Singing Galloways.

That was their joy together. And my grandma and grandpa, they were the musicians. They were the directors, the composers, and they would travel around the country, the state and the country performing. And so, there was this inherent pairing for me from childhood, of food and song, and the blessing that that is, and the community that that creates.

And it was important for me, this moment of being able to retrospectively collect together all the pieces of my life that led to this moment, I needed to experience what it is to solidly place myself in the arts and creativity space as an undergrad, where a lot of my activism started as well for women's rights and for also Black liberation. And always in that time, I was doing art but I was also doing food.

That was the community piece for me. That was the easeful showing of love toward my peoples was food. And that tradition maintained. As I went to law school and learn to system that I wanted to dismantle. Law School was so challenging because it was a place where I had to learn a lie to pass an exam, and then unlearn it, in order to be true to the reality of what it is to be Black in America.

And then there's this opportunity for me to bring in this home going trip to Africa, which I had been putting off for about five years, the perfect opportunity arose, and I took it. And I knew that there was an ecological piece that I was needing, and I granted myself that experience through that master's program, which was an experiential program. I was traveling, the classroom was the outdoors, like there was a 25 mile hike through the snow that was part of our curriculum.

And so, I was in the Pacific Northwest, I was on the Eastern Seaboard first semester, I was on the Big Island of Hawaii for a semester, and then my final semester was actually in southern India, in Tamil Nadu area, and all of those moments were definitely education, and having these resource experiences with folks in the environmental world, but it was also my opportunity to interact with what food was in all of those settings.

So I was getting this beautiful multiplicity of experiences of what food means. And that really informed my own instincts around it. And so, when I did finally come back to the States, I did choose the West Coast this time. The first part of my professional life as an attorney was in D.C., and I was there for six years. But when I came back after my master's program, I chose the West Coast, and the Bay Area, and Oakland is just a love affair of itself, and its own inspiration.

But when I found my beloved community in the Bay Area, during a birthday party actually, in my late 30s, there's that moment of reflection. Having a blessing circle and the moments of reflection were all about food. I was like, "Wait a second, there is something true for me that food is the golden thread that connects creativity and social justice, and ecology all together."

It was the moment for me of realization that all of my experiences were necessary for me to then be a vessel and a channel for food to be something that is healing, and also that is liberatory. And you know the story, you can't undo circle or the circuitous path of becoming, it simply has to flow in the way that it needs to flow in order to arrive at that critical point. And I feel right on time. I feel like all of my gifts and talents are meant for this moment. And that is such a gift to have that certainty. Because again, this is a moment that my ancestors planned for me, and I'm simply saying yes.

Tiffani Rozier: What would you say are your favorite moments, and your most challenging moments in the process of just getting these ideas and this energy into the world at this point?

Jocelyn Jackson: That's provocative for me right now, in this moment. As I'm going through that growth that you mentioned, it really has required me to interrogate what is important when it comes to having an authentic expression as an individual but also as an entrepreneur and as a business owner. And what feels true is that collaboration is essential. My favorite part of People's Kitchen Collective is Sita Bhaumik and Saqib Keval. Like, the three of us together is a magic that can't be planned, and it is restorative, and it is filled with so much righteous anger and beautiful joy and purposefulness that I can't even... You just can't even. It's just something that happens or doesn't. But we were all three on a path that intersected on purpose. And if it wasn't for that collaboration, like the three of us individually would not get up to what we've been able to get up to together.

And it's true because not only do we have a variety of expertise, and this heart of artistry in each of us, in this heart of activism and each of us. But we also have a devotion to the upliftment and amplification of each person as an individual within that collective process. And that's why I think co-ops are going to take over the world in general and they should because again that's ancient knowledge.

That is totally traditional knowledge that, but in respect to People's Kitchen Collective, there is a real commitment to each person as an individual, being able to show up in their brightest full itself. And I want to be clear, like we don't do that in a way that is absent from the need of support. The magic is there, but all magic even needs support, right?

And so, we are really proud to always brag about the fact that we actually have a business therapist, we have someone that who's amazing, Melvin. He is able to bring an intersectional lens to what is required to be in a world that is fundamentally not giving us as Black and brown folks. The regard of full humanity. And being a collective that is insisting on collective liberation.

And how there can be a constant conflict between those realities that we need to live in as individuals. And the repair that's necessary for that on an ongoing basis is real. So, I really want everyone to be able to explore that as an option. Therapy is not just for individuals, it's for organizations as well so that we can be in a space of healing all the time, that benefits the work that we do.

We are able to before and after each event, check in with this therapist in order for us to be solidly on a foundation that can carry us into the places that we need to be in order to present an experience that is wholly encompassing the necessary options within a space of liberation, for folks to feel like they're held in a safer and braver space so that they can take action, and not simply enjoy what is before them at the table, but absolutely feel inspired, and invested in taking action afterwards. That is definitely one of my favorite things about what happens when you start an organization. You get to learn together what is possible, and collaboration and collective and cooperative are spaces worth a lot more of that can happen, in my opinion. And I'm going to say with JUSTUS Kitchen, one of the more important experiences that I've had is that I've been able to honor and name that I contain multitudes.

And in another framing, that could be characterized as a multi passionate person, I can be in 50 different directions at once. And often that is considered not being focused or being distracted or all these other sort of dog whistle words. When I claim my multitudes, for me that means that I have so many disciplines that I get to integrate into these really dynamic experiences and offerings so that there can be many directions of healing simultaneously. Again, that lesson that I learned when I was on the continent of Africa, and with my host family. And learning that one of my host siblings had died. And that yes the morning is long, but the grieving is not. And I want to be really clear about that. And I may cry right now—

Tiffani Rozier: Hey, go for it.

Jocelyn Jackson: There is such a respect for life and honoring of life. But because so much of death happens, their heart has to recover so quickly in order to keep the others alive. Right? And they're able to keep the others alive because they're so expert at so many things. And when I say they, I mean people that are thriving, surviving, struggling within the colonial betrayal of many countries on the continent of Africa.

And that feels so important to me because we can't simply focus in on one direction. We are called on in this moment, to have our eyes and our minds and our hearts in a multitude of directions in order to cover our community with safety, with opportunity, and with so much love. And so that's a gift. I don't want anyone to think, and Black women specifically to think that everything that you are called to do is absolutely complicated and enhanced by so many different skills that you've gained in a life that is sometimes been joyful and sometimes been sorrowful. Have that close and know that it serves you.

Tiffani Rozier: You separated those two moments, those two processes mourning and grieving. And because mourning for me is always feels active, if there's something to be done, the expression of that in Western culture for us has always been a home going service with neighbors and friends and family like dropping off platters of food and spending time with the family just kind of talking about that person's life, and celebrating that person.

And so for me, mourning always feels like a very active space, a way of engaging with that person's memory and the work that they did while they were here and who they were. And for me, grieving is kind of the process of breaking with that person's physical presence, which is just the process of letting go of the fact that they can't... There's no physical manifestation of them here anymore.

Knowing that that's what's happening, it's mirrored on the continent. And I find like that's such, whenever I hear those types of things, for people who have like visited the continent and have spent time re-engaging and reconnecting to their ancestry in their history, the fact that we have those tendencies tattooed on our DNA, that we do them without knowing why we do them until we learn why we do them, and that they're always a part of our cultural expression, our cultural experience here in the U.S. like how we express ourselves and what we do for each other and around each other.

And so, to know those two processes happened across the diaspora, we celebrate and mourn and grieve each other in very similar ways. Even if we don't know and we aren't aware of that of what's happening on the other side of the ocean there. So thank you, thank you for for bringing us back into that moment. I think what we're seeing now, with kind of the uprisings around Black Lives Matter and people's cultural awareness and understanding of what that phrase means and what that organization actually does. And people I think in our processing of the now, we lose the catalysts. We lose the reason why people are now engaged in this conversation, and it's essentially the loss of Black lives. And the fact that collectively, we have been grieving and mourning people for weeks on end for years on end at this point. And that, a lot of people are now entering the conversation, and entering that experience with us.

But to know the both processes are hard to get to the other side of them is a lot of work. I think the thing I've heard the most from everyone I know is that they're exhausted. And because it's a constant because it's constant. You're constantly in the act of mourning, you're constantly in the act of grieving at this point. And as we move forward, and people kind of continue with the movement and they're marching in and they're signing petitions and they're doing the work of changing legislation, I think people have to remember to hold space for the Black and brown communities because while all of that is happening, and while we're engaged in all the multitudes of ourselves and what we know and who we have to be in those spaces, we also are collectively in a very active process of grieving and mourning each other.

Jocelyn Jackson: There's an event that People's Kitchen Collective hosted that took over a year to plan, and it was part of a series. We often do a year long series when it comes to the community meals that we host and we curate. And this series was called From the Farm, to the Kitchen, to the Table, to the Streets. And it was an intentional process of reclaiming the spaces where Black and brown bodies inhabit, and are often invisiblized.

This is not a farm to table movement, this is absolutely reclaiming those other spaces that have to be acknowledged in order for there to be a complete story about the food community, and the food experience. And so with that context, we had this very intentional process, we got a grant from the Kenneth Raymond Foundation, a social art practice grant, in order to support this process and specifically the streets meal. It was epic. It was simply such a beautiful thing. It was 500 people seated at along table on two city blocks in West Oakland.

Tiffani Rozier: Wow.

Jocelyn Jackson: I want to make this very clear, like the logistical lift were profound and absolutely worth it. Because it was necessary for us to make sure that the space we chose that we got permission to inhabit from the neighbors was meaningful. And the meaning of that space was that it was the corner where Lil’ Bobby Hutton, the first member of the Black Panther Party was murdered by police, when he was 17 years old.

Tiffani Rozier: Wow.

Jocelyn Jackson: The place was purposeful. Because in that West Oakland neighborhood, gentrification is absolutely happening in real time. One of our community advisors who had a restaurant on the same street where we had this meal was priced out of their lease, just I think, a few months prior to the event. So all of this is actively happening, all of this acknowledgement of desperation and precipice was taking place.

And so, it's important for us to really intentionally place ourselves in the midst of that struggle, and then celebrate out loud. And that was done because We also chose a very specific weekend. It was the weekend of Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama birthdays. And if you know about these two activists, you know that Yuri Kochiyama was the person holding Malcolm X's head when he was murdered.

Tiffani Rozier: Wow.

Jocelyn Jackson: And it is profound that they happen to share the same birthday. So, there's always and I do not use the word always lightly. I am not for hyperbole or exaggeration. There is always joy and sorrow, woven together, when Black and brown folks are together. And that is such a huge part of how we organize, and how we stay present to the needs of our communities.

That's the way movement works. That's the way we build. And so, it's profound that we get to do work where food is at the center of it. It's like a catalyst. What's happening around the food is so electric, like it is so possible, the energy that is created around food being at the center of a social justice movement. And so I just wanted to add that to that conversation around grief and mourning, and how so often when we are celebrating, we are in a space of grieving, and it's not something to turn from. It's something to embrace.

Tiffani Rozier: And while we have a few more minutes here, the food part of this the expression of your purpose and of the purpose of the People's Food Collective and JUSTUS Kitchen, how is that purpose being expressed on the plate directly? Like what dishes are you cooking? What dishes are you serving? What ingredients are important to you right now, and kind of like the composition of the plate? And then with where we are right now as a country, as a society, as a community, what is something that you can offer us from the work you do with the 29 days, that we can do in our kitchens with our food, a meditation or a prayer, any of those things that will help us in this moment right now.

Jocelyn Jackson: So to the first question, I am so grateful for the ways that we are able to create menus for People's Kitchen Collective, and for them to represent not only our specific backgrounds culturally, and in our families, but it's also an opportunity for us to tell a story about whatever theme is relevant to that particular meal. And so by that, I mean, I was mentioning the meal that we had that recognizes the history of the Japanese internment camps and how it's so relevant to what is happening present day with Muslim bans.

For that meal, we had many collaborators. We had the Nikkei Resisters, we had a beautiful contribution by a local artist who dyed the cloth that we use for our dessert course using flowers from a woman who was interned, her family was interned, and they had one of the last rose farms in Richmond. And we used flowers from that property to dye that cloth. And as we're building relationships, and doing our research to curate this meal, we're having so many conversations about what's important to these folks that are at the table.

And one of the questions we asked was, what did you want, or what were you craving or longing for when you were interned? When you're in this internment camp, creating meals from sardines and from packaged food and from all these random bits that were provided within this internment experience? What were the foods at home that you craved and it was so interesting to get the response senses that really were about comfort.

And really were about sharing. One of the meals that we had, or one of the dishes that we had was a sukiyaki. And it was served family style, over a burner at the table is surrounded by bricks. And it was heated, right there at the table, and it was mixed by people right there at the table. And people served one another from this used cast irons. They were served in so much deference in taking care, elders were served first.

And the elders that were interned, that will present the meal, they just had that overwhelming feeling of being cared for in a context that was so specifically created for them. And the folks that were there, for example, from Iraq, the Arab Organizing Committee, they had the opportunity to be with them and the stories that they told about this food and then to tell the stories about their own food traditions that deliberately bury and like there's so much more possible When you have those flavors to empower yourself within movement work. And so, those are profound moments that we were able to co-create. And that's the key word is co-create. With JUSTUS Kitchen, it's so sweet to be able to invite people into co-creation process.

Since the COVID pandemic, I've been able to make a virtual experience. The one that was in my home is now virtual. And part of that process is three questions, three guiding questions that elicit responses that I then create a meal from create recipes and create dishes that are specifically oriented and customized to that person's lived experience. Their memories, their flavors. And that is something that is present at the meal, and it is also something that is an invitation.

So presently, I am creating boxes, these care packages. And it includes not only the recipes and ingredients that are necessary, and the ingredients are always partially sourced from the continent, whether it be moringa, or hibiscus, or ginger, or baobab, or any of these things. There's always testimony to the continent and to the great south in general, in these meals, because that is an important anchoring of the experience.

And what's also included in that package is textiles. There's something that matters in the space that we create, right? It's not just the plate of food, what is that plate of food on top of? Is it a beautiful, colorful tablecloth or wax cloth? Is it that there are flowers and candles and all those things that are important, creating a beautiful experience around your food, that context matters?

And is it important to have pictures of your ancestors that are close by, they're also indicating the survival that has happened within your lineage. All those things, being able to then be transported through a box now that we're in a sheltered place, is just an approximation of what it is to be in an immersion. And I feel like food is a perfect opportunity for that immersion to take place.

And to transition to a bit of what you were saying in your second question. We've also made a shift with our free breakfast program that we do in honor of the legacy of the Black Panther Party survival programs. Every year, People's Kitchen Collective for the last decade or more, has done a free breakfast program at the Life is Living Festival in West Oakland.

And this tradition is such a heartbeat of what we do, because it is this commitment to being of service to the people and of honoring a legacy that profoundly impacted the Oakland community and will forever be present in one way or another. And for us to, it's October 10th of this year, we're going to shift to a meal distribution model in order to keep people safe, in order for more people to have access. But we're going to keep the heart and spirit of what it is for everyone to be able to access this legacy and these memories of survival within our community. So, it will be that free breakfast that has all of the indicators aesthetically, of the power of Black liberation. And it also has the opportunity for folks to really access not only what is significant in this moment when we can't be together in the same way, but also the memory of what it is to gather together.

And with JUSTUS Kitchen, being able to do the virtual one-on-one Tender Soul Sessions as I call them, feels like another entry point that's possible. And for folks to get that, that satisfaction of being able to eat from the traditions of their own family and of their greater beloved community. And I want to say that with the free breakfast program, we often serve a menu that is composed of all the old hits when it comes to the free breakfast program, including grits that are...

There's such attention paid for the organic nature of the food that we get. We know it's not always possible, but there's also a commitment to the fact that we don't want to be part of what's killing our community. Many preserved and conventional foods are doing that. So we have this commitment to seasonality and organic foods. So these grits are the highest quality of grits.

I'm not hating on any anything else, what I'm saying is, when we can make the choice and we're supported financially to make that choice, we're going to get the answer meals organic grits because they are the most beautiful, heirloom variety of grits that are such a testament to our history of agriculture. And we want to be able to give that gift and that access whenever we're able to.

So it's grits, and it's greens, and it's those scrambled eggs, and it's the opportunity to bring in the recipe that I love which is this sweetheart sweet potato biscuit with lots of peach jam on it that's noted having our tofu scramble because photo soy is right down the road and they donate to us each year.

So this community built breakfast that honor something that's that's so classic but finds a way to make it even more delicious and nutritious which was the commitment of the Black Panthers. And Ruth Beckford-Smith, Ruth who was one of the co-founders that was key to the free breakfast program even happening, and growing from a few kids that the first meal to over 20,000 nationally at its height.

And so, that's important. And I am grateful that we get to bring into JUSTUS Kitchen, Tiguadege Na and all these traditional dishes from my experience in Mali. That can be introduced sometimes for the first time to Black women and families that haven't had that experience. I love that moment of access. And for it to be a visual feast and a sensorial feast in general, gives me so much joy.

And like I said, my family before every before every meal, we bless it with a song. And so that's what I'm going to offer in this moment, which is, we often characterize doing a prayer or some kind of gratitude before a meal. And that's a tradition for both People's Kitchen Collective and JUSTUS Kitchen. We have our poet theologian who will bless our meal.

And we also have me to really shift people's perception of what's about to happen. People aren't used to having the song sung in general. It's just different enough of an experience, that it invites people to really settle into themselves and ground into what's about to happen. And that feels significant, to shift people into another place of attention and presence before having this meal that is filled with meaning.

And the song I'm going to share with you is called Ella's Song and it is by Sweet Honey In The Rock. And I'll just share the refrain, which I often do at meals. This is protest music. It is a blessing through protest. I encourage you to look up the whole song because it's so powerful the things that are spoken about it around liberation, and like you said, the fact that we are at the heart, mourning the loss of Black lives over and over and over again. And the song is element, but it is also a song that encourages us to keep going.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it's found.

And I'll leave it there.

Tiffani Rozier: Thank you so much for that I was like, "Okay, we can go a couple more bars is fine." Go ahead and tell the people how we can support both JUSTUS Kitchen and the People's Kitchen Collective, and how they can engage with both of those organizations. Spread the word and make sure they stay a part of our conversation and discourse with each other, and then how we can support you directly in your work, whether it's just making sure we add you to our daily meditation and add you to our prayers. So yeah, just let us know how we can support you and where we can find information about both of those organizations.

Jocelyn Jackson: Thank you. With People's Kitchen Collective we are active with the website, with Facebook, with Instagram and they are all accessible through that search of People's Kitchen Collective. And we welcome your support financially. We do have a PayPal activated on our website. And that does support the work that we're doing and most most directly the free breakfast program is coming up in October.

Through JUSTUS Kitchen, I'd love to see you all on Instagram specifically at JUSTUS Kitchen. And I want to be specific about how that is spelled. It is spelled J-U-S-T-U-S. And that comes from a word that was shared from Huey P. Newton, who was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party. He said, "I went looking for justice and I found just us."

And that really is a testament to the fact that this is a FUBU world. We are absolutely awesome at creating for us by us. And that is the tradition I am looking forward to maintaining through JUSTUS Kitchen. And by also providing free care packages for Black women and families during this moment, that we needed so much. We need that healing, we need that care taking.

And so I am taking donations to support that initiative. Those JUSTUS Kitchen care packages are going out on a regular basis. And it's just three items of the products that I offer. And these are also our ingredients that are sourced from the continent and from the south. And so, those are ways that you can support me right now and support People's Kitchen Collective.

And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to talk all of this into the world, where it belongs and to know that there is such a sacred and supportive response to work that centers our experiences and that really does create an opportunity for collective liberation for our beloved community.

Tiffani Rozier: Well, thank you so much for spending some time with me on Juneteenth, I am just honored and grateful that you could carve out some space to be on the Afros + Knives Podcast. You are one of four amazing incredible folks that I will be speaking with and interviewing for my collaboration with Cherry Bombe. And I would like to just thank Kerry and the ladies at Cherry Bombe for hooking this up, and for supporting the podcast and just you know making sure that your message and your work gets put into even a larger space and so that's just for me incredible. And I am absolutely grateful for it.

That's all for today's show. If you'd like to know more about Jocelyn and the work she does, you can follow her on Instagram @justusitchen and @peopleskitchencollective. Thank you to the folks at Traeger grills for supporting our show. You folks are the bomb. This miniseries is brought to you by the folks at Cherry Bombe. It is produced with help from Kerry Diamond, and edited by Kat Garelli. Our theme song is Calling Each Other Friends by BLAEKER. Until next time, may you be happy. May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be at peace.