At Petaluma Bounty, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. George Floyd’s murder on May 25th, 2020 is part of a larger web and long history of systemic anti-Black and Brown police violence and racism. Anger, action, outrage, and sadness have filled streets and conversations along with demands that we not look away. Led by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been actively organizing for years before this, people are collectively coming together to resist, grieve, and demand change, not only for George Floyd , but “for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.”
As we publish this short statement and accompanying action steps, Petaluma Bounty is also entering into a larger conversation guided by the following questions: How is food insecurity linked to anti-Black racism and violence? How do the legacies of racism manifest today in our food system and what roles are we playing (active or passive) in perpetuating these dynamics? Why is Petaluma Bounty talking about this?
We’ll start with the latter because the answer is simple— we are a community food security organization focused on systemic change that has failed to name racism, specifically anti-Black racism, as an embedded structure in the systems we seek to change. While we continue to work toward equity in the food system, we recognize that true progress can only be made when our work is analyzed through a racial justice lens to ensure accountability. The history of our food and agricultural system is founded on slavery, forced labor, oppression and genocide. Therefore, food and social justice cannot exist without racial justice; by not naming racism explicitly, we have perpetuated violence through silence.
As a predominantly white organization (meaning the majority of our staff and affiliates are white) we have significant work to do within our own organizational structure and programs, how we show up in and for the Black community in this acute moment and the BIPOC community as a whole moving forward, how we manage the farm as a physical space, and how we engage with the overwhelming lack of diversity in leadership at all levels of the food system.
With this recognition in mind, listed below are the action steps we will implement into our core values and practices:
- We will review hiring, recruitment, and training practices to identify implicit biases, and do the necessary work to address them. This includes reflecting on how our staff, Board, interns, and volunteers represent our communities and show up to our shared work.
- We will prioritize the recruitment of BIPOC community members for Advisory Board roles and positions of leadership, alongside the fostering of an inclusive, equitable environment where all members feel heard and valued.
- We will strive toward operating our organization such that BIPOC individuals, groups, and organizations feel comfortable working and collaborating with us.
- We will review and edit our guiding principles to reflect our goal to serve as a bridge building organization within an anti-gatekeeping framework. We will prioritize listening, resource sharing, and co-creating ways to support BIPOC community groups and organizations.
- We will use the “Food System Racial Equity Assessment Tool” on page nine of Racial Equity Tools for Food Systems Planning to evaluate our current programs; reflect on community and organizational power dynamics; review resources, networks and connections we foster, participate in or benefit from; and inform our discernment process in choosing which future projects and collaborations to pursue.
- We will begin the process of acknowledging and explicitly naming how the work we already do is connected to systemic racism, while striving for all of our programming to be actively anti-racist.
- We are sharing our internal resource guide titled “Food Justice is Racial Justice” which will be used as a roadmap for accomplishing Petaluma Bounty’s action steps. It contains written works, interactive maps, and racial justice tools largely geared toward guiding white people involved in the agricultural sector through a journey of reckoning with the violent history and present role of white supremacy in the food system, and eventually, toward action and solidarity.
- We will share our reflections in response to the questions asked above as well as our internal work. In this piece, we will reflect on the connections between food systems work, systemic racism, the history of U.S. agriculture, food access, and the negative (often deadly) health outcomes, along with more overt forms of violence, against Black and Brown communities.
This is an evolving conversation and we are each on our journeys— individually, organizationally, and as a community. We have and will make mistakes. However, Petaluma Bounty will continue to be involved in difficult conversations and processes with the goal of better supporting and advocating for BIPOC communities locally and beyond.
We stand in solidarity. Black Lives Matter.
Petaluma Bounty Staff
Harlie Cruickshank, Reyna Yagi, Summer Sullivan, Suzi Grady