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Soul Fire Farm Wants to Decompose Structural Racism

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Photo by Neshima Vitale-Penniman

In the below guest column, the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) farm in Grafton calls for unity in an effort to dismantle racism and pave the way for meaningful action in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

We believe that healing is possible and justice is necessary.

We are appalled by the recent police killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed and Breonna Taylor, and the tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a vigilante and former police officer. And we applaud the innumerable ways that people are coming together to push for systemic change and offer support, protection, and mutual aid with one another in their wake.

We extend deep condolences to the families for their profound irreparable loss; and expand empathy for the outrage of millions who witnessed sacred precious Black life extinguished before our eyes, and the way it rhymes with countless acts of brutal racist violence throughout our nation’s history.

Photo by Neshima Vitale-Penniman

We know that racial terror is seeped into the very fabric and foundation of this country by design. We know that our collective outrage and fatigue is not in response to isolated incidences of police brutality, but rather a system of white supremacy that is evident in our food system, housing system, education system, health care system, criminal justice system, and fundamental human right to safety and dignity.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, in which Black people are dying at nearly three times the rate of white people, in which communities of color are contributing the majority of “essential work” yet experiencing the most acute economic devastation, in which “reopening the economy” is more important than the Black and Brown and poor people whose lives it will cost, is a country that must radically transform – not return to normal.

This is a time that calls all of us to come together to decompose structural racism and white supremacy to fertilize our soils conducive to life, that we may cultivate a world where all of us can breathe. This requires engagement on multiple levels through a myriad of valid and vital avenues for change.

We commit to working alongside you to do everything within our power to dismantle structural anti-Black racism, and are hopeful that WE WILL WIN. Let us channel our grief, rage, hope and magic into meaningful action.

Justin Butts, Kiani Conley-Wilson, Larisa Jacobsen, Leah Penniman, Naima Penniman, Jonah Vitale-Wolff, Cheryl Whilby, and the Soul Fire Farm team

Check out Soul Fire Farm’s compilation of resources and opportunities to get engaged.

Read more about Soul Fire Farm co-founder, author of Farming While Black, and Hudson Valley Woman in Business Leah Penniman here.

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