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Black Lives Matter: An Open Letter to the Slow Food Community

Dear Slow Food leaders and community,

As protesters take to the streets across the country demanding justice, we are reminded, once again, that oppression is systemic. Oppression is deeply rooted in all American systems, including the food system. We cannot ever remain neutral. We stand behind our Black community members — the farmers, chefs, activists, leaders, educators, food chain and restaurant workers, youth and fellow citizens — that have felt the pain of this fight every day of their lives. We stand in solidarity with front-line justice organizations by continuing the fight for a just food system. 

We are committed to making Slow Food USA an anti-racist organization that authentically pursues good, clean and fair food for all. Let’s not fall into a trap of saying we don’t know how to respond. A diverse Slow Food coalition created an Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto in 2018, and it’s time for every chapter leader and member to commit to putting those words to work in local communities and in the nation’s food system. In doing so, we will take a united approach in addressing the intersection of food and race with new earnestness. Use the EIJ Manifesto as a practical guide and starting point. We will succeed and we will fail, but we cannot stop learning and trying, and we certainly cannot hesitate. 

Rachel Cargle offers a helpful recipe we’ll use to hold ourselves accountable to anti-racism: “Knowledge plus empathy plus action. If you take any one away, you’re performing.”  It starts simply with a conversation: How can you unpack and enact the EIJ manifesto in your local chapter and in your community work? 

Let’s get to work and hold each other accountable. 

  1. Commit to knowledge. Educate yourself. You can pick one of these books. We will be reading “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi this summer as a staff– we would love for you to join us. We will be organizing zoom discussion groups. 
  2. Commit to empathy. Follow the lead of food justice organizations like these. Show up for them. Build those relationships.
  3. Commit to action. Comb through the EIJ Manifesto, and create 6 concrete action steps for your Slow Food chapter or community. Share these with us here by the end of the summer (Aug 31). 

We at the Slow Food USA national office also commit to knowledge, empathy and action. We are creating a national strategy and roadmap to take concrete steps. And, you can look to us to provide support, collect and share resources, collect and share stories from our network, put together skill-shares, coordinate collaboration across chapters and groups, listen to you, and work with you to co-create this shared action plan. 

This is still the opening act for us. Let’s leverage our anger and grief over the senseless murder of Black Americans like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery into action. We are calling for equity and justice not just on our plates, but also on our boards, in our strategies, and through our partnerships and actions.

To the pursuit of joy + justice!

Anna, Giselle, and Felix

Add your name and Slow Food affiliation (chapter or working group) in the comments below to publicly commit to this work.