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Photograph: Shutterstock/Kevin RC Wilson

This organization provides free meals to the Black trans community

The Okra Project provides "home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources" to the Black trans community.
Written by
Emma Orlow

The constant protests—in the wake of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many other Black Americans who’ve been murdered by the police—have introduced many New Yorkers to new anti-racist organizations working to stop violence in all corners of the city. And while it can be hard to know which group to donate to, New York’s food world in particular has been standing in solidarity with the work of The Okra Project. For those of you who may not know their work, The Okra Project “is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black trans People wherever we can reach them,” the team writes on their website.  All meals are prepared by Black trans chefs in New York City at no cost to the Black TGNC community. Each session costs $90 (which pays for labor and food costs), but people interested in donating can contribute any amount they feel comfortable with. 

“During the Middle Passage, our African ancestors snuck okra onto captive ships to sustain themselves and plant in the new world. Black Diasporic cooking traditions often use the okra plant for its versatility and it is often associated with health, prosperity, and community…In this spirit, The Okra Project hopes to extend free, delicious, and nutritious meals to Black trans people experiencing food insecurity,” says the team. For those interested in helping the Black trans community outside of New York, The Okra Project has set up an International Grocery Fund, a monthly fundraiser that sends $40 grants to Black trans people anywhere in the world so that they are able to afford groceries.

The Okra Project was also one of the organizers for this weekend’s historic protest for Black Trans Lives. As we reported yesterday, the rally was estimated to have been joined by upwards of 15,000 protestors. 

“Today, I call upon each and every one of you to make a commitment,” Ianne Fields Stewart, founder of The Okra Project, told the crowd at the Brooklyn Museum. “Today, I urge you to commit that today is the very last day that transphobia will claim the lives, loves and joys of Black trans people. For too long, Black trans people have fought for our unity, and for too long, [cisgender] people have been acting like they ain’t know what the fuck we’re talking about.”

All across New York this week, bakers and pastry enthusiasts are joining forces for a project called Bakers Against Racism, and many are using their respective bake sales to raise funds for The Okra Project. For instance, Natasha Price, a chef of MoMA PS1's in-house restaurant, Mina's is selling items such as an olive oil poppyseed loaf with orange zest and strawberries with proceeds going to the organization. 

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