Before Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe launched a community-funded brick-and-mortar shop in 2010, we ran an underground community kitchen out of our home for 18 years, with a commitment that we would turn no one away for lack of money. We have served meals at countless demonstrations, rallies, vigils, and social and environmental justice conferences. During the pandemic, we have fed neighbors and frontline workers. We have always represented and held space for movement-building and community work.
On Thursday, July 23, 2020, we arrived early to begin work at our restaurant in Chapel Hill and discovered a pile of ashes under the gas meter and a vivid trail of burnt gas or oil out to the street. Thankfully, no one was hurt and little significant damage was accomplished. There is an investigation underway into whether this was a planned act targeting Curryblossom.
If the intent was to set a fire, we can’t claim to know the message our unfriendly visitors were trying to send. That said, it is possible that we are being targeted in response to our outspoken progressive values, our support for immigrants and refugees, or the Black Lives Matter sign prominently displayed in our window. Supporters who have been with Curryblossom for the long journey know that in the past the restaurant has been targeted with hate mail, racist vandalism, and threats during periods of white supremacist upsurge, emboldened by the highest offices of this nation.
While we cannot draw any conclusions about exactly what happened or who did it, we thought today would be a good day to share what we believe. We affirm the dignity of all migrants and we know no human being will ever be illegal. We are committed to the fight for reparations and we know that Black lives matter. We believe in indigenous sovereignty and we pledge to care for the land we inhabit.
Our central tenet is that food is a human right, along with housing and healthcare, along with clean air and fresh water. Hatred and fear come from a place of perceived scarcity and lack that are created by the current system of greed, and we are committed to continue to feed people in the name of human rights and abundance.
This is the time to express all of our commitments loud and clear. Speaking out against the powerful systems that would harm our communities may come with painful consequences. We were moved by the recent courage of the family owners of Gandhi Mahal in Minneapolis, Hafsa and her father Ruhel Islam, who spoke of the property destruction at their restaurant and affirmed the value of Black lives over property.
We have faith in divine protection. And we trust that our beloved community will care for us, in a web of mutual care and interdependence. We will continue to move in Southern legacies of healing and transformation.
This is a time when we are all called to take risks to move to the side of love and to unequivocally act on the side of justice. Will you join us?