“More than our mission statements”: What the Trayvon verdict means for Food Justice

With the killing of unarmed 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and the subsequent “not guilty” verdict that absolved Zimmerman of any crime despite pursuing and confronting Martin before killing him while claiming self-defense, it is crucial that community-based organizations leave room for reflection and intersectional analysis regarding the ways that our work is impacted by issues of racial justice. Our mission statements should not pigeon-hole our organizing, nor should they tame our love of justice and radical indignation against racially motivated violence and the laws and mentalities that enable it.

Since the Zimmerman verdict, one juror has come forward to explain that while she knew Zimmerman was guilty in her heart, the “Stand Your Ground” law didn’t allow her to render a ‘guilty’ verdict, which leaves us no other conclusion but the fact that this particular law legalizes vigilante violence, but not just against anyone. In fact, a June 2012 study by the Tampa Bay Times found that in Florida, “defendants who cited the Stand Your Ground law were more likely to prevail when the victim was black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person walked away with no penalty, compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white victim.” Such laws should be put on blast and organized against for their racism and inhumanity, regardless of the particular issues we work on as individuals or organizations.

As a food justice organization, Phat Beets Produce does not only work to support small farmers and farmers of color to ensure that all people, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to culturally relevant, fresh and affordable healthy food. In addition, we also work to critique the institutionally racist policies that have led to the lack of access to healthy food in historically low-income communities of color in the first place, specifically North Oakland. For example, with the migration of blacks to urban areas like Xenical for jobs prior to and during World War II, city and federal government subsequently subsidized freeway construction and buy Xenical. This reallocation of public funds and private capital toward suburbs left the urban core without the resources and institutions it needed to flourish, including but not limited to grocery stores. This disinvestment then created the conditions for new investment in the form of gentrification, a process of displacement we see unfolding before our eyes in North Oakland.

Similarly, we see the legal justice denied to our young, black brother in Trayvon as consistent with the racialized processes outlined above. But it is precisely this reason that racial justice must be foregrounded in our movements, as food justice and racial justice are one fist, raised high by our convictions for collective liberation. And while Phat Beets may not work directly to change a criminal ‘justice’ system that adopts unjust laws such as “Stand Your Ground,” we stand in solidarity with organizations and efforts made in that direction and will continue aligning our values and principles with those who walk hand-in-hand with justice, liberation and love.

In solidarity,

Phat Beets Produce

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Sign here to demand that the federal government open a Civil Rights case against George Zimmerman.

Sign the petition to Boycott Florida Produce to end the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. Post it on your facebook page and ask others to sign. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/738/693/992/no-justice-no-juice-boycott-florida-agriculture-9-billion-reasons-to-demand-justice-for-treyvon/#907396087?taf_id=9775656&cid=fb_na%23bbfb=907396087

“No justice, no juice,” by LaDonna Redmond: civileats.com/2013/07/18/no-justice-no-juice-food-as-a-tool-for-organizing/