Farming while Black: Joy & Justice in Reconnecting to Land
By Maria Infante | Chief People and Culture Officer at TerraCorps
At TerraCorps, we practice a model of organizational equity that demonstrates our collective willingness to be in a constant state of learning and growth. In addition to our regular weekly DINE (Diversity, Inclusion, Nibbles and Equity) conversations, we’re celebrating the abundance of resources being shared during Black History Month as an additional opportunity to expand our thinking around racial discrimination and legacies of inequitable relationships to land.
This week we share a little history, a little joy, and a lot of facts. First, an Instagram story on foraging while black, and then a New York Times article about climate, inequality, and Black-owned farms.
Foraging as an act of Racial Rebellion
I follow blackforager on Instagram and have really enjoyed her lighthearted and straightforward way of teaching. Blackforager (Alexis Nikole) recently shared why it’s important for Black American people to talk about how race is present in all facets of their lives, like access to the benefits of wild vegetation, even when others think that it’s unnecessary. Here’s the link to this particular Instagram story about foraging while Black.
(Photo courtesy of Alexis Nicole)
Black Farmers key to Climate Change?
Now, about that New York Times story…
Is it possible that politics can address climate change and our nation’s history of land theft and discrimination against Black American farmers? Can they make good on the most recent promise to set things right?
Here are some article highlights:
- Farms run by African Americans make up less than 2 percent of all of the nation’s farms today, down from 14 percent in 1920, because of decades of racial violence and unfair lending and land ownership policies.
- Black American farmers continue to face discrimination. As recently as 2015, Black farmers obtained only about $11 million in microloans designed for small farmers in 2015, or less than 0.2 percent of the roughly $5.7 billion in loans administered or guaranteed by the Agriculture Department that year, according to researchers Nathan Rosenberg and Bryce Wilson Stucki.
- The Biden administration plans to rollout agriculture policies that put farmers at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
- The U.S.D.A.’s spokesman acknowledged a legacy of discrimination in federal farming policy, and that the agency is committed to removing those barriers.
Just the Beginning…
For more information about how Black Americans in the U.S. were dispossessed of millions of acres of land, take the time to read this story 2019 from The Atlantic, “The Great Land Robbery: The Shameful Story Of How 1 Million Black Families Have Been Ripped From Their Farms”. It is well worth your time.
Fun fact: Back in 2019 TerraCorps reached out to the author, Van R. NewKirk II, about presenting to our TerraCorps Service Members. He was kind enough to respond! Unfortunately, he couldn’t make a commitment at that point but did leave the door open for other invitations. Fingers crossed that we can persuade him to join us in the not too distant future. 😊
Learn more about TerraCorps’ approach to Land Equity and our commitment to practicing internal organizational equity as we continue to build a human-centered organization working to ensure land is and remains the foundation of health and well-being for ALL.
And if you love BlackForager as much as we do, please consider supporting her work through Patreon.