Statement from Juneteenth Broadcast Presenters
In 1965, James Baldwin wrote to his nephew: “The country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.” In the 55 years since, as anyone with eyes can see from the storm which continues to rage about our heads, very little has changed. We continue on a steady, centuries-long course, of systemic exploitation.
The U.S. Industrial food system is a direct descendant of the agriculture-based plantation system. It was built on land stolen from Native Americans, forcibly labored by enslaved Africans, and protected by a legal system designed and evolved to privilege land ownership and citizenship to white people.
Over the last hundred years, Black farmers have lost over 90% of their farmland. They have faced and continue to face formidable odds, from covert denial of financing and legal resources to overt land theft. And yet, Black farming in the U.S. persists and continues to grow food to nourish our communities despite the systems constructed to destabilize them.
How do we create a clear alternative to the current “conventional” industrial agriculture model? In order to decompose the existing “conventional” system based in land theft, enslavement, and white supremacy, we must build and adopt a new one. One that regenerates as much land as “conventional” agriculture degrades. A new system that creates the political pressure necessary to redefine our food system, so “conventional” industrial agriculture may go extinct.
This new system, as we see it, will be recognized by three defining features:
- ADVANCE BIPOC LAND OWNERSHIP
Today, land ownership rests in white hands while labor rests on the backs of people of color. A just system sees land ownership and access to resources in the hands of BIPOC laborers.
- DECENTRALIZE FOOD ECONOMIES
Our current food system is designed to consolidate wealth. We are calling instead for cooperative community infrastructure, democratized production, and mutual ownership. This ensures that diverse and robust agrarian economies can thrive.
- END FOOD APARTHEID
Ecologically and culturally appropriate food is a right, not a privilege. Food must be available at greatly reduced prices without sacrificing ecological values, and agricultural opportunities must be open to more than just the most privileged members of society.
We believe true freedom, justice and equality begins with justice for Black, Brown and Indigenous people of color.
On Juneteenth (Friday, June 19th 2020), we will hold a daylong event, speaking out in depth against the food system’s injustices. The Juneteenth Broadcast is an invitation — to corporations, foundations, donors, and allies — to see, hear and support Black voices in the food system. Register for details at AGrowingCulture.org/HFJ
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Iyeshima Harris, Sawdayah Brownlee, Kristina Erskine, Jamila Norman, Amber Tamm, Gethegu Gatungo, Matthew Raiford, Leah Penniman, Naima Penniman, Karen Washington, Chris Newman, Qiana Mickie, Sheryll Durrant, Alexis Mena, Mavis-Jay Sanders, Sicily Johnson