How Okra And Black-eyed Peas Keep The African Diaspora Connected

black eyed peas
Briona Lamback
February 9, 2023

With the forced migration of Black people all over the world came various African-derived cultures, and though there are many differences, these three foods keep the diaspora connected.

Black-eyed peas

From West Africa’s shores to South America and everywhere in between, black-eyed peas are one of the food ties the diaspora lovingly shares. The peas are said to have been woven between braids and brought to the Americas on slave ships, where they were used in dishes like Hoppin’ John, a peas, rice, and meat medley in the Southern U.S., and as a fried bean cake called Acarajé in Brazil.


Okra has the diaspora in a chokehold. The slimy green vegetable is used in everything from various soups and stews across Africa to gumbo dishes in the U.S.


Hibiscus also keeps us connected. In Jamaica, the flower becomes a ruby holiday drink called “sorrel.” Latin America calls it agua de Jamaica; it’s bissap in Senegal, sobolo in Ghana, and the inspiration for red drink, an African American delight including everything from Kool-Aid to Big Red Soda.

Black cultures vary, and we should honor and respect our differences while recognizing the ties that keep us connected. The more we see each other as kinfolk, the easier we realize our liberation together.

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