Remembering George Floyd & The Work of Becoming An Anti-Racist Organization
By Krystal Oriadha, NFSN Senior Director of Programs and Policy
No murder is without strong impact to a community, but the murder of George Floyd impacted not only the community of Minneapolis, but our nation and the world at large. On the tragic anniversary of his murder, I am reflecting on National Farm to School Network’s year of growth and challenges as we move to operate more fully within our vision for a just food system.
Last year we made a statement to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and declared our commitment to ensuring that National Farm to School Network will be an anti-racist organization. As a white-led organization, we knew we could not just be silent allies. We needed to speak up on these injustices within our communities with not only our words, but with our actions. We must be an organization that is actively – not passively – working to dismantle racism and to shift power whenever and however we can. That commitment aligns with the Call to Action for the food system we launched in October 2020: By 2025, 100% of communities would hold power in a racially just food system. This bold call to action is what is needed and what the movement calls for. If we do not shift who holds power in our food system, we will never achieve our vision for a just food system.
We also went through some challenges as we examined white toxicity in our own organization. This led to us to have very honest conversations about our organizational culture. As the only person of color in staff leadership and as a Black woman, I felt a strong need to push ourselves to not only talk about transforming the work we do externally but also look at how we can create an anti-racist workplace culture internally. To do this, we had to take an honest look at ourselves – as individuals and as a collective – and be willing to transform our own perspectives. This ongoing journey has not been easy, and it is not over, but we are committed to going on this journey, and to sharing it publicly. Over the last year, we’ve had to name and call out harsh truths as well as create space for uncomfortable conversations around issues of anti-Blackness in our own organization.
We are calling for other white-led organizations to do as National Farm to School Network has done. Do not just put out a statement in memory of George Floyd; make a public commitment to action both internally and externally, and then do that work. There are many staff of color suffering prolonged emotional trauma within organizations that put out statements of solidarity with communities of color while still creating and maintaining a toxic work environment for staff of color, showing that diversity is not truly welcomed. I am personally calling on organizations to think about the emotional tax paid by staff of color and to begin to work on addressing this within your organization’s culture.