On May 25th, George Floyd was killed by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis. The Landworkers’ Alliance is outraged by the senseless murder of this unarmed Black man, and also by the brutal killings of so many others.
We stand firmly in solidarity with the Black community and protesters of all races who are out in the streets in communities across the world, demanding justice and calling for an end to systemic racism and oppression. We fully support the call to action from Black Lives Matter organisers:
“Our pain, our cries, and our need to be seen and heard resonate throughout this entire country. We demand acknowledgment and accountability for the devaluation and dehumanization of Black life at the hands of the police. We call for radical, sustainable solutions that affirm the prosperity of Black lives.”
Our thoughts are with George Floyd, his family and community. His death underscores the harsh reality that racism is real and deadly, and addressing it must be core to any and all organising for social justice.
Not only are we carrying the grief of all the lives lost to police violence, but also that of structural violence which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the deep injustices inflicted on the BAME community in the UK.
It is important to highlight the delay and censoring of the review into Covid-19 deaths in BAME communities which was also delayed before being published on Tuesday.
Additionally we want to stress the lack of access to nature and green spaces – an in-depth English study carried out by Natural England in 2013-15 reported that whereas 74 per cent of under-16s from white families visited the natural environment at least weekly, the figure for BAME households was just 56 per cent. Moreover, white children were far more likely than BAME children to head to green spaces with their grandparents (18 per cent compared to 5 per cent) or friends (15 per cent compared to 8 per cent). The survey also found striking disparities by region and socio-economic group, and David Lindo sees this as a wider issue. “For me, it has never been just about race – it’s a city phenomenon, it’s social demographics. Anything that precludes ethnic-minority people getting into nature applies to anyone in an urban area or low-income family.”
The Landworkers’ Alliance understands that dismantling systemic racism is central to our work of creating healthy, just food and farming systems for all. From the days of the colonial empire to the current industrial food system – so much of our food is produced with the sweat and blood of unpaid or vastly undervalued labour. The links between racial justice and food justice are very clear. Food insecurity as a symptom of poverty is state violence! If we join the dots the high rates of of lifestyle diseases among BAME groups in the UK is directly related to diet and poverty. BAME particularly Black people are most at risk of household food insecurity and are almost 1.5 times more likely than other ethnic groups.
The Structural Racism of the Global Food Economy
Racism is present and prevalent in the industrialised globalised food system. Peasant farmers, predominantly of colour, are responsible for the bulk of global food security yet remain some of the most unheard voices calling for reform. Peasant farmers of colour and indigenous peoples across the world have been subject to exploitation, appropriation of land, and marginalisation both politically and economically. Activists are murdered and imprisoned as they seek to protect land and livelihoods to produce food for their own countries, families and communities. There is also a clear intersectionality between racism, gender and violence. In all of these issues the burden on women from the global south is disproportionate. The loss of local food systems has also impacted cultures and traditions. BAME communities have lost of traditional foods, local markets, seeds and dignified livelihoods. The African and Caribbean Heritage Food Network is undertaking research on the impacts COVID19 on access to food and food insecurity for African and Caribbean people, and the food supply chain for African heritage foods.
We know racism in the food system cannot be resolved without tackling the underlying structures that hold it in place. We commit to being a visible ally and taking public positions not only on oppression within the food system, but also within the broader social justice movement. We are committed to building equity in our organisation and supporting our members who are racially minoritised and marginalised.
This is a moment of solidarity, with thousands — of all races — showing up to protest in communities across the world. Community members and local businesses have stepped up to support protesters in dramatic ways, from food donations delivered from local farms to free meals and supplies. We also want more growers and people in the land sovereignty and food justice movement to engage with racial equity. Food Systems New England has a brilliant collection of resources and prompts that can be done as a 21 day challenge or in your own time. While it focuses on the US we can draw a lot of parallels to the UK.
When the Gandhi Mahal restaurant in Minneapolis was damaged by fire last week, the owner released this solidarity statement: “Let my building burn, justice must be served.”
Actions to take, now
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
· Take action by attending one of the protests in the UK this week – now is the time to show up.
· Watch this 7-minute video from the Minnesota Black Visions Collective, and follow and amplify Black leaders on social media, in the food system and beyond (check out @SoulFireFarm, @
Act on your outrage by providing material and financial support to sustainable movements and organisations.
Here are some groups that we think people should direct their funds and energy towards:
- Land In Our Names – a food justice organisation for people of colour in the UK. LION needs funding to cover core costs, set up a People of Colour Growers fund and create a Food Justice Toolkit. To donate to LION contact the LWA (firstname.lastname@example.org) designating that your donation should be handed over to LION.
- United Families & Friends Campaign – supporting and connecting friends and families of people killed by the police in the UK
- Black Lives Matters UK – BLM UK have set up a fundraiser yesterday which looks to build and create a resilient and sustainable movement through creating and distributing resourcing, providing care and healing services to Black people and so on.
- UBELE – Ubele has been doing some important work in researching the effects of COVID on BAME people and organisations and have been building community resilience and sustainability.
- Black Rootz are a black-led multigenerational project at Wolves Lane in north London. It is an incubation project by Ubele where elders share their growing knowledge and support young people.