Black lives matter to us.
This is an invitation to civil, thoughtful dialogue about racism. I don’t pretend to know many of the answers, but I’ve been working to educate myself, and to overcome the fears that have kept me silent on this issue. If you too have felt paralyzed by the repeated murders of black people, let’s talk. If you’ve felt upset, but believe there’s nothing you can do about it, let’s talk. If you respond to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter,” let’s talk. If you have white skin but don’t think you have white privilege or that it has anything to do with all that’s happening in our country lately, let’s talk.
Why am I writing about racism on a farm website? Because food, farming, and race are inseparable. The land Craig and I farm on was once the territory of the Haudenosaunee, until white people stole it. White people accumulated wealth to develop the land through the unpaid or barely-paid labor of black and brown people. Underpaid black and brown people still grow most of the food we buy at the store. Black farmers have lost almost all of their land over the past 7 decades, as a result of federal policies designed to do exactly that.
And if all that weren’t enough, I am also a mom. Yesterday a black mom, Jahna Riley, pointed out on social media that the only question that matters for white parents right now is, “What we are doing to raise children who won’t kill her children?” So I’m committing to having hard conversations, and to talking about racism and the murder of black people in age-appropriate ways with my children.
None of us caused this mess, but we all have a role to plan in creating change, and one place to start is within ourselves, digging down to understand our own relationship to race and how it contributes to the way we move in the world.
Donating to black-led organizations is great, but should not be your only step. Some of our favorites in the food and farming world are the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, Soul Fire Farm, and the National Black Food & Justice Alliance. But there are so many more if you start looking.
If you don’t know what else you can do, start with yourself. Read “Waking Up White,” by Debby Irving to explore how you learned to be white. Read “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi – this one is sold out in many places but worth trying to find. I also really like this list, because the resources are organized by where you are in your journey toward anti-racism. Check out these resources HERE.
So again, I invite you. Let’s have uncomfortable conversations together.* Choosing not to engage is a white privilege, one that people of color simply don’t have. Let’s not exercise this privilege.
In love and solidarity,
Erica, Craig, Rowan, and Phoenix
*by this I mean respectful conversations where both of us are willing to examine our beliefs and have civil dialogue. I don’t mean propaganda-sharing or shouting matches. If you genuinely believe that white is a superior race, I don’t think we have much to discuss.
Credit for the featured photo on this post: Rachel Costa made the sign with Ally Thomlinson’s inspiring words, and Allisa Eason took the photo. I do not personally know these women but found their collaboration powerful and was moved to share it here.