Looking Back and Ahead: Our Racial Equity Journey in 2020 and into 2021
By Helen Dombalis, Executive Director
Twice in 2020 - in January and June - we publicly made commitments to action for racial justice through our work and have been carrying through on those steps throughout the year. This fall, we launched our call to action for the food system that will guide us in the years ahead.
In the spirit of holding ourselves accountable and in hopes of inspiring each of you to set measurable goals in your work towards achieving racial justice in our food system, we’re sharing our story from 2020. We’d love to hear your story too!
- Shared our actionable commitments to advancing equity in 2020, not knowing what 2020 had in store. We pivoted our efforts as needed to adapt to the realities and priorities of the moment.
- Became more explicit and vocal that there is no food justice without racial justice. We spoke out against racism, exploitation, and oppression, including for George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Jacob Blake.
- Targeted our COVID-19 Relief Funds to Black- and Indigenous-led, -staffed, and -serving organizations. This decision inspired other national organizations to do so in their grant selection and awards.
- Were more honest about the role of white-led organizations in being allies in this work.
- Received mostly positive feedback on our statements. Some members in our network do not yet see the connection between farm to school and racial justice, which indicates further work we have to do.
- Issued our call to action for the food system: By 2025, 100% of communities will hold power in a racially just food system.
- Held our first Movement Meeting, focused entirely on racial justice.
- Launched our Equity Learning Lab.
- Continued monthly staff calls and weekly team calls devoted to racial equity in our work.
- Worked with external equity consultants to push and challenge us.
- Required equity goals be embedded in all staff job plans.
- Supported staff in attending Soul Fire Farm’s Uprooting Racism Training and Race Forward’s Building Racial Equity trainings (both highly recommended!).
- Started all of our meetings with community agreements.
- Started identifying and correcting examples of deficit-based language in our writing, and we continue to push ourselves to be justice-centered in our communications.
- Started examining white supremacist culture at our organization.
2021: Looking ahead, we will be:
- Updating our mission and vision and our values to explicitly center them in racial justice.
- Updating our equity commitment to provide more context about the history and intentional exploitation and oppression behind the statistics we cite.
- Asking ourselves and all of you what shifting power looks like and setting measurable goals and tracking progress towards this.
- Updating our equity assessment tool for programs and policies.
- Developing an organizational equity assessment tool for us and our partners.
- Continuing to invest in racial equity professional development opportunities for staff and board members.
- Creating a “People to People Language Guide” for communicating about race, ethnicity, gender, social class, disability status, and other forms of identity.
- Continuing work with our external equity consultants.
- Continuing to examine and address white supremacist culture in our organization.