Weapon of Control
An old photograph of an African American woman cooking food by a fireplace.

Food was used as a weapon to control enslaved blacks.  Abolitionist, social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass wrote in My Bondage and My Freedom, “I have often been so pinched with hunger, that I have fought with the dog – ‘Old Nep’ – for the smallest crumbs that fell from the kitchen table and have been glad when I won a single crumb in the combat”. Similarly, Booker T. Washington, who was an educator, author, orator, and adviser to several Presidents of the United States, wrote in his autobiographical works, The Story of My Life and Work and Up from Slavery, that his family got their meals like “dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there…a cup of milk at one time and some potatoes at another. Sometimes a portion of our family would eat out of the skillet or pot, while someone else would eat from a tin plate held on the knees using nothing but hands…to hold the food.”

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With families at the center of health care, all children and youth reach their full potential and health disparities are eliminated.

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Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families—including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity—in order to improve health care services and policies for children.

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