Last week’s sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd marks yet another important milestone in the ongoing work to confront the systemic racism that has infiltrated all aspects of our society, including our food and farm system. However, the sentencing is also a reminder that we all have more work to do if we are to confront and eliminate racism in all its forms.
Part of the Land Stewardship Project’s mission is to develop healthy communities for everyone, no exceptions. At the core of LSP’s work is our drive to create a society based on sustainability and care for people and the land. As we stated over a year ago in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, racism, along with the violence it spawns, is not sustainable.
During the past year, we have joined our allies in calling for the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd to be held accountable. Last week's sentencing is an important step, but it is just that — a step. We must continue to demand accountability from not just law enforcement agencies, but all of our institutions which, directly or indirectly, create the environment where such tragedies are all too commonplace. The murder of Black people by law enforcement personnel is an extreme example of systemic racism — it also exists in various other forms that impact our communities on a daily basis.
That’s why we must not only work to hold law enforcement agencies accountable, but all aspects of society. For example, the current reckoning over the USDA’s years of discrimination toward Black farmers is long overdue. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the need to address vulnerabilities in our food and farm system, not the least of which is the unhealthy and often brutal conditions workers of color experience in the meatpacking industry and other aspects of our food and farming system.
The killing of George Floyd and so many others like him has made it clear that we also must be accountable to ourselves. LSP will continue to follow the lead of allied groups led by people of color while supporting our members in having difficult conversations and empowering them to take actions to address racism in their own communities.