Our Commitment to Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion
June 24, 2020
On June 16th, members of AFHVS participated in a group dialogue to hold space as a society to recognize and condemn all forms of violence and oppression—past and present—that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face in the United States and globally. AFHVS has always and continues to affirm that racism, racial discrimination, and racial injustice, in any form are unacceptable. We also recognize that the agriculture and food systems in which we study, mobilize, and live have been built on a foundation of racialized dispossession, discrimination, microaggression, and violence—overt or insidious.
In order to uphold our commitment to social justice and equity, we must consider where our own Society can transform and evaluate in the pursuit of anti-racism and inclusivity practices. Creating a commitment to racial justice that is actionable and accountable is where we begin. That means examining all of our ongoing practices for how they reproduce marginalization and inequality and taking actions to correct them.
Our recent dialogue served as a space for critical reflection to explore our values, practices, and intentions as an ongoing commitment to racial justice, equity, and inclusion as a Society. The group highlighted several possibilities that reaffirm our existing principles, including further dialogue that will be a transparent and generative opportunity to be more inclusive. The following salient points were drafted as a result of this recent meeting, which were also drawn from the “Solidarity for Racial Justice” Google document that includes the contributions of several Society members. These are points to “sit with” and to build upon for purposeful AFHVS change:
● Engage in further critical deliberation as a Society and continue to learn with/from our sister organizations and societies.
● Continue examining how we as a Society are upholding and challenging dominant power structures in our practices.
● Develop scholarships for BIPOC students, scholars, practitioners, or community members.
● Invest in anti-racism, inclusivity, and rights-based education for board members and other interested society members.
● Revisit conference practices for more inclusive and dialogical learning opportunities.
● Revisit conference structure and costs to encourage more community organizer and practitioner participation.
● Create a new AFHVS committee that focuses on supporting resources on pedagogy and learning for racial justice in our agriculture and food systems coursework.
● Develop a shared reading list and syllabi on race, culture, and food systems.