“O, let America be America again –
The land that never has been yet
–And yet must be –
the land where every man is free.”
Today is June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, which marks the anniversary of federal troops marching into Galveston, Texas in 1865 to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, and ensure all enslaved people were freed. It’s certainly a day for celebration, but also a day to be critical, as while slavery has been abolished, the accompanying discrimination is still present and deeply baked into American systems and infrastructure.
Urban Roots will always stand for educating our youth about racial injustice and the current inequity in both food access and agriculture. In our programs, youth learn about how race intersects with food inequity with activities like food mapping, which visually demonstrates where food is located and what types of food is there. This creates a conversation about why, especially as it pertains to Austin’s history of purposefully racially serrated geography. We also discuss how Urban Roots and similar programs can have positive short and long-term effects on these communities. Overall, we aim for our youth to continue building healthy, personal relationships with the land and to learn to support equitable, local food systems while acknowledging and respecting agricultural history, and the land that we’re on.
The evolving forms of discrimination are still present, so we must continue to advocate for and demand racial justice. While it is something that cannot be fixed by one person or in a day, we can all do our parts by educating ourselves (for instance, by learning about how racism exists in your local systems), listening to Black voices, and supporting your local Black business or organizations. Click here for a short KXAN piece on the subject and here for additional reading. Austin has plenty of businesses and services to check out, as well as organizations you can support (and resources for having these conversations with children, as well as some learning resources) here.