In New Iberia, LA we met the Provost family who owns one of the few remaining Black-owned sugar cane farms in Louisiana. The Provosts offer a tragic story of racial discrimination by powerful agricultural processors in (likely) collusion with local USDA offices that has driven them from their land and out of the farming profession that they love. While USDA has paid millions of dollars in compensation to minority communities for similar discrimination over the years through the Pigford v. Glickman civil rights cases, those payments didn’t make farmers whole, and did not end the discrimination.
It was a stark reminder that a culture of white supremacy and the systemic marginalization of African American communities, endemic since the founding of the country, continues to this day in much of the South and across the country. As they documented longtime patterns of racial discrimination, we began to recount experiences eerily similar to that of the Black watermen along the southeastern coast, where in both cases farmers and fishermen were systematically targeted and forcibly removed from their industries.
This type of discrimination has emboldened other types of discrimination to take hold in fishing communities all along our coasts, including southern Louisiana. We heard from independent oyster, shrimp, and crab fishermen who are deemed disposable by a large-scale, multibillion-dollar, water diversion project that threatens to remove these communities off the map.
Their stories are echoed by fishermen who have felt equally disposable by policies that have privatized the rights to fish making way for Wall Street investors while marginalizing small and mid-scale fishermen. It's a familiar story: once we decide it's okay to discriminate against one group of people, we give permission to discriminate against anyone who doesn't fit the norm established by a few (the dominant minority) who want to exert power over the majority.
Here are some things you can do today to fight against injustices and push for policy to support communities over hedge funds:
Make a stand on social media: Tell @NOAA now is the time to act in the best interests of the public. Don’t let Wall Street investors take over our fisheries.
Support the Real Meals Movement - It’s time for Aramark to move away from dirty deals and toward real meals that support food producers, communities, consumers, and the earth. Join us in calling on Aramark to be part of the solution, not the problem. Sign the petition: http://bit.ly/2OlW5OV