Recent events have highlighted the painful divide in our culture, one that is hundreds of years old. The silver lining to a global pandemic is that it reminds us to be willing to take a chance and focus on what really matters even when it’s difficult.

I appreciate you for reading this email. For listening and searching for answers to your questions about what matters to you.

Like so many others, we are devastated and heartbroken by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.

If you’ve been following the Black Lives Matter movement, you’ve been hearing the words “structural racism” and perhaps wondering what that means exactly.

What you may not know is that BK Farmyards (our first business name) was rooted in social justice… specifically food justice.

In our Brooklyn community, we recognized that there were higher rates of asthma and chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimers, and diabetes among people of color.

And there was also less access to fresh, affordable, organic and culturally appropriate foods among communities of color. As we converted unused land to farms, we focused on how we could make a difference in our own community.

One of our projects, the Youth Farm, provided leadership and job opportunities for young people of color. It was a space for people of all races and ages to come together to explore what food justice means.

We started getting press for turning vacant land and yards into farms.

So we made an internal agreement. Media and press were only allowed to cover the project if they were willing to use the words “structural racism” in their article. We wanted to use our platform to acknowledge biases in our country that lead to unequal health burdens placed on people of color.

Some media agreed. Others agreed but then editors took it out, because it was scary to acknowledge. As you might imagine, we also lost a lot of press. But it didn’t change our mission… or our agreement.

Now, the message that Black Lives Matters is prevalent because of all the people willing to take the risk to stand up and give voice to what’s important.

The words “structural racism” are used widely, and people are curious what it means and are reflecting on their own experiences.

On the one hand, my heart hurts because it took hundreds of years to get here. Too many sacred lives lost with this massive structural divide.

On the other hand, it makes me want to sing.

Because it’s highlighting what’s been here all along. And because when we are all investigating it together, hopefully it’s a little less scary.

This moment in history is calling for something new…

It’s time for us to listen deeply.

It’s time for radical self acceptance.

It’s time for us to make space for uncomfortable conversations that matter most.

It’s okay to change your opinion when you are met with new information… You don’t have to stand by something you said yesterday if you’ve learned something new today. Growth is beautiful.

It’s time to acknowledge our own fears of speaking out and taking risks.

Conversations are the glue that holds us together, that connects us.

And it’s a time to forgive ourselves if we accidentally stick our foot in our mouth and say something that is unintentionally biased.

Because biases gone un-investigated can lead to fatal errors in judgment.

And if you feel called to DO something, there’s a couple things you can do to amplify the message that Black Lives Matters.

There are peaceful protests all across the world that you could join.

Or have an uncomfortable conversation with someone that doesn’t look like you.

And with your friends and family too.

If you are interested in supporting food justice organizations, check out Just Food in NYC and Civil Eats throughout the U.S.

If you’re anything like me you’ll want to jump to solutions immediately…it’s human nature. But I am reminded of a conversation I had with Nikki Silvestri in 2013 when she was the Executive Director of the People’s Grocery in Oakland.

I was telling her that I felt helpless, that I just wanted to DO something…, to be part of a solution.

And she told me that the only thing to do was to love. To face the pain and bring love and radical acceptance of myself and others.

Is it possible that we are ready for that? The Black Lives Matter movement gives me great hope.

And I acknowledge that there is so much more that we can do to amplify the voices of people of color in the local food movement and beyond.

Peace & carrots,
Stacey Murphy & the GYOV Team