urban farming as resistance to racial capitalism: taking back food production from corporations

October 3, 2017
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By jesse chase, AFROPUNK Contributor


We need to eat everyday in order to survive. Food security and food sovereignty movements are raising awareness to the importance of local and organic food production. The world will need 70% increase in food production by 2050, says the world food and agriculture organisation, so it’s important to be prepared.

The less the people care about what they are eating and where the food comes from the more the people are at the mercy of corporate giants like Monsanto who use disease-causing pesticides and have a heavy monopoly on GMO seeds and their patents.

Taking back food production can be realised in sustainable and educational ways so that future generations can benefit and learn from it.

Cities like Detroit are already moving forward with food sovereignty in mind. The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative and sustainable urban ‘agrihood’ program is one of the biggest food cooperatives in America. Jackson, Mississippi’s Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson-Kush Plan developed by the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots movement plans on making Jackson one of the most radical cities on the planet:

“The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is intended to accomplish four fundamental ends : 1) to place the ownership and control over the primary means of production directly in the hands of the Black working class of Jackson, 2) to build and advance the development of the ecologically regenerative forces of production in Jackson, Mississippi, 3) to democratically transform the political economy of the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the southeastern region, and 4) to advance the aims and objectives of the Jackson-Kush Plan, which are to attain self-determination for people of African descent and the radical, democratic transformation of the state of Mississippi (which [they] see as a prelude to the radical decolonization and transformation of the United States itself).”

Pro-black business can be a temporary resistance to racial capitalism and corporate agri-business before moving towards post-capitalism. There are even current efforts being made towards creating black-owned energy cooperatives.

Whether the economic cooperatives be centered around food, energy, medicine, tech, education, etc, having a knowledge based economy of these sectors is key to Black liberation and the liberation of all those oppressed under the economic violence of white supremacy and colonialism.

Japan has an indoor farm producing 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. There are commercially produced pre-made farms that go for at least $60,000 but you can build your own temperature controlled vertical farm in a 40 ft shipping container for about $15,000. A vertical shipping container farm of that size can produce upwards to 4,500 pieces of fresh produce a month all year. Participatory budget cooperatives/economies and getting involved in municipal and local government can help organize this kind of urban farming initiative for every block in the neighbourhood. These farms can feed everyone and be made affordable with surplus for the homeless as well as providing food banks, who often enough can only provide canned food, with fresh healthy produce.

To develop a unified field theory of ID politics, environmental politics and land politics we use to interact with the unceded First Nation spaces we occupy would be moving towards a post-human and post-capitalist society in where we will understand ourselves in what some militant liberation scholars and activists call the post-apocalyptic present. That means understanding that for those who survived the First Nations genocide is that there were upwards to 95 million to 115 million people killed since Columbus arrived and wiped out the first 5 million Taino and Arawak inhabitants of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). The apocalypse already happened, it was the white man.

Revisioning land politics, ID politics and environmental politics within a post-apocalyptic frame gives priority to the indigenous people of North America, South America, Africa and Australia to revitalize their own traditional forms of knowledge that they were violently dispossessed from through colonialism. These traditions are more holistic and unified to respecting land. They avoid unnecessary and harmful effects on the environment, from pipelines to over-farming to global warming. For example traditional permaculture techniques have been known to transform over-farmed desert areas into lush green regions that can increase rainfall by 20%.

This is about decolonization and reparations. First Nations and African nations are demanding a resource extraction reallocation fund where a percentage of revenues generated from natural resources be placed into a form of treasury to reconstruct and preserve indigenous communities rather than filling the pockets of white investors, both foreign and domestic. South Africa has a Black Economic Empowerment program that now requires 30% of mines be owned by Blacks in order to offset the disparities created by apartheid, the same apartheid regime that was invented by British colonial rule in Canada with native reservations.

Land politics is to identity politics as environmental politics is to humanism.

But what we’ve known as human has only been white exceptionalism hierarchy, it’s time to move beyond that and towards a post-human movement in conscious solidarity. It is a radical shift, a revitalizing of the indigenous roots of resistance that European colonisation has tried to exterminate.