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I host a podcast called “Sick Empire,” and this November I curated an episode titled “Hood Eats: How Black Diets Influence Our Social Wellness,” featuring a conversation between myself and a woman named Yemi Amu. Yemi is an aquaponic educator who founded Oko Farms in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. I interviewed Yemi about the power of healing in the garden and she shared her experiences teaching her non-gentrified Brooklyn community how to grow produce, herbs and proteins from recycled water.
We talked about many aspects of gardening and how Black folks have been in the soil since the soil first existed. However, there is a devastatingly low percentage of Black farmers who own land and crops today.
Less than two weeks after that interview aired, the Justice for Black Farmers Act was released on Nov. 19 by its lead sponsor Sen. Cory Booker. The bill is written in response to the injustices that Black farmers have faced in agriculture since 1862. Booker said in the press release for the Justice for Black Farmers Act,
“Overtly discriminatory and unjust federal policy has robbed Black families in the United States of the ability to build and pass on intergenerational wealth. When it comes to farming and agriculture, we know that there is a direct connection between discriminatory policies within the USDA and the enormous land loss we have seen among Black farmers over the past century. The Justice for Black Farmers Act will work to correct this historic injustice by addressing and correcting USDA discrimination and taking bold steps to restore the land that has been lost in order to empower a new generation of Black farmers to succeed and thrive.”
Later this week, I’ll be sharing a more in-depth look at the bill, it’s comparisons to the Homestead Act of 1862, and how Black health and wealth can grow in the fields — the same place where so much Black pain remains buried.
Until then, here is an archival photo collection of Black farmers.