This weekend I harvested the shoots from the microgreens that I planted three weeks ago; tiny seeds sown in a windowsill garden when George Floyd could still breathe.
I was more patient with these greens than is typical for me, waiting until the first true leaves unfurled before I snipped the tender white and purple and pale green shoots into a pile to serve at lunch. A lunch eaten while the world reels.
This past week has been hard and messy and heartbreaking. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has magnified the larger crisis of police brutality, racism, and inequity in this country and the world. For some folks, this has been the very first week of their awakening. For many more, the fight against these unjust systems is woven into the fabric of their everyday lives, inextricable and impossible to ignore.
Protestors are taking to the streets, shouting Black Lives Matters and calling for abolition and police reform while statues celebrating enslavers are being rightfully dismantled and tossed to the sea. Across countries and continents, folks are acknowledging the suffering caused by the historic and continued subjugation of Black people by a system that harms everyone in its path and Black people in particular. Publicly and privately people are grappling with how to undo the damage wreaked by the lie of white supremacy.
Several years ago I began in earnest to have this site more clearly reflect my private efforts to lead an actively anti-racist life. The efforts on this site, as in my personal life, have sometimes been clumsy. I have often not done enough. I have gotten things wrong. I will be redoubling my efforts, continuing my own personal education and unlearning and doing my best to thoughtfully integrate that work here.
This past week, in an effort to force myself away from my phone and to calm my mind amidst the ever-present buzz of police helicopters, I’ve been reading poetry before bed. Last night, I pulled Camille Dungy’s anthology of poetry, Black Nature, from the shelf. It’s a heavy book, even in paperback, and when I let it fall open, the spine creased in a new place, as if deliberately guiding me to Frank X Walker’s poem, “Homeopathic.” The poem is exquisite and heartrending in its entirety, but I’ll leave you with just an excerpt here:
The unripe cherry tomatoes, miniature red chili peppers
and small burst of sweet basil and sage in the urban garden
just outside the window on our third floor fire escape
might not yield more than seasoning for a single meal
or two, but it works wonders as a natural analgesic
and a way past the monotony of bricks and concrete,
the hum of the neighbor’s TV…
…Enjoying our own fruit, we let the juice run down our chins,
leaving a trail of tiny seeds to harvest on hungry days like these.
To my Black friends and readers, I hope you are able to find moments of rest and peace and tiny seeds to harvest this week. To folks like me, who continue to benefit from the lie of white supremacy, may we be integral in its dismantling. This is our imperative.
For the curious:
+ If you’re looking to hear more from Black folks on the subject of farming and food growing, this interview with founders of Black Minimalists, Kenya Cummings, Farai Harreld, and Yolanda Acree is one place to start. (Yolanda’s excellent book Mindful Simplicity came out this winter.)
+ The theme for this month’s efforts at Sustainable Brooklyn is “WTF is Going On With Agriculture.” On Friday, June 12, from 7-8 pm, they’ll be hosting a live webinar covering “land history, current food systems, and what individuals and communities can do ASAP as we activate regenerative and restorative micro and macro solutions particularly in BIPOC communities.” RSVP to reserve a spot.
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