Representation matters for a Black farmer | Think Piece

1 min read

When diversity, equity and inclusion goes wrong. In the ramped up efforts from whites and white corporations to form allyships with Black businesses and communities, some are asking if this is genuine. This Black farmer certainly does.

I and a number of other Black farmers were tagged in an extremely ill-advised, performative solidarity post from @freshfarmdc the other day. I didn’t even notice it until @dcpuddin very, very bravely called them out on tagging Black farmers to take advantage of #BLM trending while largely leaving those farmers in their bush league: weekday markets with little traffic

D.C.’s high-traffic farmers markets basically print money. I know (white) farmers who’ve managed to get a guest slot at FreshFarm’s Dupont Circle market and made two months of revenue in a single morning. Same with @oldtownfarmersmarketalx, another incredibly busy market nearly devoid of color that’s never even bothered responding to my applications AT ALL

The markets we get . . . we’re barely breaking even; they’re cost centers we use to rope customers into CSAs and delivery services

The hostility toward markets you’ve read in my stories and in my feed… the millions of dollars were looking to raise to collectivize and build our own brick and mortar markets and fulfillment services? These are all things I’m pursuing precisely because structural racism means that every White farmer in the world is in line ahead of me to get into keystone venues like Dupont and Old Town

Farmers markets are an unflattering mirror into the racist nature of gentrification: White spaces erected in Black places where the latter is relegated to a permanent, semi-participatory underclass.

FreshFarm and other market venues have a decision to make with every year: honor their long relationships with White farmers whose incumbency – their head start – is explicitly owed to people of color either being chased off the land at gunpoint or deliberately hamstrung by racialized farm policy…

… or take an actively anti-racist stance, letting White farmers burn some of the fat they (damn well should’ve) padded on over the last few decades while farmers of color are finally given our own turn in a permanent spotlight

I strongly suggest contacting @oldtownfarmersmarketalx and @freshfarmdc to let them know which you’d prefer . . . because colored folx have sung this song for years to an empty room

This was reprinted with permission from Chris Newman of Sylvanaqua Farms.

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