MFAI’s Stance on Racial Justice
June 14, 2020
The staff and board of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) strongly condemn the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other historic acts of violence, death and racism that have oppressed and held our Black and all communities of color in physical, emotional and spiritual bondage. MFAI stands in solidarity and joins the ranks of those who have taken to the streets in protest and seek to dismantle the systemic racism which for centuries has kept these communities from accessing land and resources, especially as it pertains to education, land ownership, local food systems and federal food policy.
We must confront universal racial injustices and recognize that white privilege exists within every facet of our country. MFAI recognizes and acknowledges the systemic destruction agriculture has helped create, in our past, through enslaved Africans working in our fields, stealing lands from Indigenous communities, and our nation’s complex and unjust relationship with a largely undocumented, underpaid, and despised labor force.
The world around us has awakened to the violence and disenfranchisement faced by communities of color. As an organization dedicated to the promotion of diverse, complex, and interconnected agriculture and food system landscapes, we realize the need to redouble our efforts to find and foster that same diversity and interconnectedness in the communities we serve.
As part of the old societal framework that has represented people in a position of privilege through access to land and a wealth of resources, it now becomes MFAI’s responsibility and intention to take concrete steps challenging societal inequities harming people of color. As we continue our work each day to create more robust, resilient, and responsive agriculture production and food systems, we also commit our voices and perspectives to advancing changes in our broader society by:
- A commitment to doing the internal work of educating ourselves about racism, white privilege, inequity in our society, and create a culture of anti-racism especially as it relates to the food system.
- A commitment to listening closely to communities of color around the nation, especially in our state and communities and to sharing our many resources and privileges with those groups.
- A commitment to standing up, speaking out, and using our voices, position, and influence to enact change.
- A commitment to recognizing that we have a lot of work to do in educating ourselves while creating a culture of anti-racism with our partners and society.