Recent events have been heartbreaking, and they have exposed more widely, how pervasive and painful racism is in our world. Our hearts go out to everyone who’s hurting, to everyone who’s frightened, and particularly to the communities of color that are bearing the terrible brunt of systemic racism, as they have been for centuries.
Along with so many people, we feel horror and outrage at the atrocities of police brutality that are all too common today. What’s worse, we know the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers is a gut-wrenching example of systematic and devastating bias in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. How can anyone with goodwill in their hearts not be abhorred that Black people are incarcerated five times as often as White people?
Statistically, the darker your skin color, the more likely you are to be the victim of police violence — and also to grow up poor (especially black men); to be denied loans, promotions, and housing opportunities; to live in a community with polluted air and water; to lack access to nutritious and healthy food; and to suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and all the other chronic diseases that are so prevalent today.
In the U.S., Black children have a 500% higher death rate from asthma compared to White children.
And now, Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 at more than three times the rate of White people.
We have thought of ourselves as reasonably active and knowledgeable proponents of racial justice. John had the life-transforming privilege of knowing, following, and working with, Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. He has been seeking to carry on Dr. King’s legacy ever since. Before there was a Food Revolution Network, Ocean was the co-founder and director of an international and intentionally multicultural nonprofit that deeply explored issues of race, class, and power almost every day. But now, we realize that we’ve become, as so many White people often are, blinded by our privilege. We wish it hadn’t taken another horrific event to wake us up, and to wake up so many of us.
Is it possible that we could now be at a moment in history when some grievously overdue changes can finally be made to address the racism that is such an ugly stain on all of us? We hope so.
Some people say that “all lives matter.” And of course, it’s true. But if a house is on fire, you don’t call the fire department and say “all houses matter.” You call the fire department to the specific house that needs urgent attention. Today, we say Black Lives Matter, specifically, because it’s urgent that we address and heal the egregious injustices that are devastating so many in the Black community.
At Food Revolution Network, our mission has long been healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Since we founded FRN in 2012, we’ve advocated for better treatment of restaurant, farm, and food system workers, who are disproportionately people of color. Recognizing the profound link between race and class, we’ve worked for government food subsidy changes that would make healthier food more affordable; we’ve sponsored the planting of hundreds of thousands of fruit and nut trees in low-income communities; we’ve provided thousands of scholarships to make our work available to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
And, we know there is still so much more we can and must do.
Today we’re redoubling our efforts to learn, to listen, and to address the glaring inequities that have existed for far too long in food, health, and opportunity.
In the days, weeks, and months to come, we will not only be talking more boldly about these disparities but also providing resources for constructive action. You’ll also see us highlighting and amplifying the voices of people of color who bring wisdom, leadership, and compassion to these troubled times.
We’re facing some challenging — and for many people — devastating realities. And we’re humbled and grateful to be able to walk this journey with you. We believe that, if enough of us put our hearts and minds together, we can learn, face the pain, bring love where it’s needed, and do something meaningful to help.
Yours in hope, prayer, and action for a better world,
— John Robbins and Ocean Robbins, Co-founders
Food Revolution Network
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