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Why I Work To Uproot Racism In The Food System

The reason that I as a Black person work to end inequity in the entire food system is simple:

  • Black farmers currently operate less than 1% of the nation’s farms
  • 85% of the people working the land in the US are Latinx migrant workers
  • Only 2.5% of farms are owned and operated by Latinxs and Hispanics
  • People of color are disproportionately likely to live under food apartheid and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other diet related illness
  • Labor laws continue to permit the exploitation of farm and food workers

Meanwhile, industrial agriculture is accountable for 24% of climate change, 70% of water use, and 37% of land use. These and other misguided environmental disasters, such as pesticide exposure, continue to harm communities of color disproportionately even while systematic oppression driven by white supremacy continues to sever communities of color from the spiritual and somatic benefits of a healthy connection to the earth.

My very bones tell me that I have an ancestral responsibility to do my part to eradicate food system racism. In the process, I have come to understand that my particular skills as a performance-based writer and a social justice workshop facilitator are best utilized when working within supportive intersectional communities that, if not yet led by people of the global majority, are intentionally moving towards such leadership. And that ask of each other the following:

  • How can we best accelerate the transfer of resources and power from people with food system privilege to all people targeted by food apartheid?
  • How do we co-create a movement that advances reparations for both Indigenous and African heritage folks AND action-based platforms designed to undo unjust systemic practices?
  • How can we create an inclusive continuum of relationships that work to develop and nurture a sustainable just theory of change
  • How do we best support one another spiritually and somatically as we move through this work?  

In the end, I am reminded of these words by Arundhati Roy, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”  Let us keenly listen as we act.

 

Kent Alexander is a consultant whose work focuses on facilitating anti-racism, and “otherness” dialogues, as well as workplace culture workshops and trainings. Kent has worked with institutions across the Connecticut River Valley including Earthdance, Elms College, Cooley Dickinson Health Center, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Communities that Care of Franklin County, Hilltown Community Health Centers, TerraCorps, and the PVGrows network. He currently serves as an anti-racism consultant for Communities That Care. Kent is also an active playwright and a student of Somatics.

Statistics source: www.soulfirefarm.org

Featured image of UMass Amherst Dining courtesy of the Kendall Foundation.