Have you ever been hungry? Not the missed-a-meal, wanna overeat hungry, but the stomach-churning, bout to steal a loaf of bread hungry. Not the luxury of choice, but the sheer desperation of not having eaten for so many hours that food is nothing more than a memory. A dictionary describes hunger as “an uneasy or painful sensation from lack of food.” Synonyms include starved and starving. It happens at our border when children are separated from their parents and not given enough to eat in a day. It happens in our inner cities, where poor folks often choose between paying rent and buying food. Millions of people in the United States, as many as 40 million in 2017, experienced hunger. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 15 million households are “food insecure,” scrambling, often at the end of the month, to put food on the table.
The statistics are daunting. One in six children do not know where their next meal is coming from. Twenty-two million children need free or reduced-price lunch to get enough nutrition. The Department of Agriculture has just promulgated rules that will cut another 3 million people off food assistance. You won’t be surprised to know that Black and brown folks are more likely to experience food insecurity than others.
Denny’s and the National Council of Negro Women have partnered to visit seven HBCUs this fall. They have titled their tour “Hungry for Education,” and as President of PUSH Excel, the education arm of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, I was excited to join with friends and colleagues to promote the tour. The theme was amplified when Denny’s President John Miller shared a poem that highlighted the ways hunger affects academic performance. While the poem seemed to focus on the K-12 youngsters whose presence, ability, and behavior is affected by hunger, it is also clear that young adults who are attending colleges across the country make painful choices. Food or tuition? Dinner or a required book? These young people are experiencing an “uneasy and painful sensation from lack of” be it nutritional or intellectual sustenance.
I feel their pain. I am hungry, too, but I’m hungry for sanity. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever our 45th President opens his mouth and hits the airwaves. And I am all the more nauseated because I talk to friends in the world and around the globe who never hesitate to make fun of our nation. We elected the world’s biggest clown. Who the heck articulates his desire to be an extreme colonialist by saying he might like to buy Greenland, a territory of Denmark that is uninterested in being sold? I know that 45 was once a failed real estate mogul, but the imperialist notion of purchasing other countries is, at best, laughable and even deplorable. I am hungry for sanity when I read disgusting tweets that encourage Israel to block duly elected United States Representatives (those who vote on an Israel subsidy from this country) from visiting and speaking to oppressed Palestinians. Whether Trump or Israel agrees with Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the fact is that they are elected representatives of their districts and the Trump exhortation against them, not to mention Netanyahu’s foolishness, are anti-democratic. I am hungry, so hungry that there is a pit in my stomach when I consider this foolishness.
Dr. Johnnetta Betch Cole, the seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women, disturbingly noted that there are hungry children in our world’s most prosperous nation. Perpetuating hunger will erode our riches, but some of us are too busy addressing the antics of the Provocateur in Chief, that we can’t deal with the minor matter of hungry children. Thus, the NCNW Hungry for Education partnership with Denny’s is both about physical hunger and intellectual craving for better lives. It’s about transcending Trump.
Those of you who read me regularly know that I can rarely bring myself to type the word “Trump.” I’m doing it now because I’m hungry. I’m hungry for sanity, hungry for peace, hungry for the possibility of a better world. I won’t be writing about our 45th President again this year. I will write about economics, public policy, and philosophy. I won’t write about the narcissist, the elected clown who has turned our nation into a circus. I’m less interested in the circus than in the sideshow ways this administration has consistently attacked and oppressed people. I am hungry for sanity, and I surely won’t get sanity by writing about idiocy. I’m going to take at least a three-month hiatus from reacting to unhinged madness. I am hungry for sanity, and millions of us are still hungry for food!