Counter Clockwise: Hot Food Night

What happens when our basic human right to give food to each other is hijacked and made illegal by authorities? Last month, a Texas chef, Joan Cheever - who has been giving to those in need for more than 10 years - was fined $2,000. Cheever will be fighting the fine in Municipal Court on June 23, by arguing that under the 1999 Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, she has a right to serve food to the homeless because she considers it a free exercise of her religion. Prior to Joan Cheever, last November, a 90-year-old man in Florida was arrested for providing food to the homeless and faced 60 days jail time and a $500 fine.

To date, 71 cities in the U.S. have outlawed feeding the homeless and the trend is rising quickly. In 2013 and 2014, 21 cities successfully criminalized giving to the homeless. Governments are battling activists by claiming that feeding the homeless perpetuates homelessness and interferes with business, which is not substantiated by statistics showing a decrease in homelessness. What kind of a world are we creating when we allow our social policing to bypass our good nature?

Hot Food Night

(You can email Niki at nikising [at] gmail.com.)

Born in Vancouver, Canada to African and European parents, Niki Singleton is now based in Brooklyn after traveling and living abroad for 10 years. She has undertaken residencies in France, the Netherlands, New York, Brooklyn, and Connecticut, and has had solo and two-person exhibitions in 287 Spring Gallery (New York), the Holocaust Museum (Dallas), and Imagine Ic (Amsterdam).