Dear Afroculinaria.com Community,
It is with GREAT pleasure that I announce that I have been selected along with 20 other very talented and creative individuals as part of the 2016 Ted Fellows class. That’s right, those TED talks you see all over social media that inspire you and get you thinking about the world in a different way—I get to be a part of that in February in Vancouver 2016, and along with my other 2015 class members, deliver a short TED talk.
Yep. If being part of an amazing community of thinkers, doers, activists and shakers wasn’t enough; I’ll have the opportunity to go to Vancouver in advance of the program, meet other TED 2016 fellows and build up to the moment when I get to give a TED talk!
“The TED Fellows program brings together young innovators from around the world and across disciplines, who display both outstanding achievement and exemplary character, to ignite their careers. The program offers Fellows full participation in the TED or TEDGlobal Conference, a two-day pre-conference of workshops and activities, a biannual Fellows Retreat, ongoing professional coaching and mentoring through the SupporTED program, dedicated PR coaching and active participation in the TED community, including the global TED Fellows network. Founded in 2009, the TED Fellows program now includes 397 Fellows from 86 countries.”
This is just another step on a very long journey. I never thought when I applied that it would lead to all this. I’m passionate about my work. My goal is to move us all beyond clichés about food bringing the world together and bridging differences. The culinary expression of the civilization our Ancestors brought from West and Central Africa is no small thing. It in many ways is our salvation, joy we can reap despite our mourning. I look forward to taking that message further. I also want to bring a healing to my native land, the American South, a place stained with regret, pain, and unresolved challenges that have manifested in body and bone.
The Cooking Gene will be published next year as well. It’s happy fortune that TED, the publication of my first major book with HarperCollins, and the fortieth anniversary of the book that inspired me, Alex Haley’s Roots, all coincide. I hope to finally see West Africa by May. I cannot tell y’all how sincerely honored I am that so many of you have taken this journey with me. I feel as though my sense of kinfolk has grown. Having lost my Mom last year, I can only say this would be better if she were here, but she is spiritually with me. I love all the light she’s sent me, and all the encouragement this blog and it’s community on Twitter and Facebook and I cannot thank you for helping me come to see this day.
I want to thank all of you for your support in all the forms in which you’ve given it. I want to thank the people who helped me grow my voice and those who have cast their lot with Afroculinaria and uts mission. Finally, I want to thank the TED Fellows team for their confidence that I would be a valuable member of the TED Community, the 2016 Fellows and that I have a message that a larger audience needs to hear. I’m truly excited for all the things to come!