Why we can't afford to be silent

June 06, 2020 Yadira Ruiz

When it comes to matters outside of growing food, we have created a boundary. We have strong personal convictions and beliefs that we live out and act on but we keep them out of our business communications. We prefer to focus on the food because that's what Sunbow Produce is all about.

Today, we are breaking from that pattern to take an overt stand against oppression, racism and institutional abuse of power. While we have our own personal and professional experiences, we are not experts. We are witnesses and allies. We have privileges that others can only dream of and part of this privilege is to have a platform to share our voices and stand with the black community and all others who are experiencing grave injustices and oppression at the hands of those who are meant to protect and serve. What good does it do to nourish our bodies but not our minds? Today we invite you to feast your mind on the idea that our country can evolve into a place where our violent history is acknowledged and our hopeful future will involve meaningful change through conversations, community organizing, policy change and radical inner evolution.

Our hearts are heavy and we know we are not alone. We live in a time when people are being murdered by police, incarcerated, denied basic human rights and civility. The targeted victims of these atrocities are people of color, immigrants and other marginalized populations such as people living in poverty. It's hard to be concise about the level of degradation that is exercised against these targeted populations because the examples are endless and we're not even talking about examples you'll find in history books. We're talking about now, this week, this month, this year, this lifetime.

In the realm of food, oppression and racism take the form of food deserts, which often leads to higher risk of medical and health issues which in turn add to economic stress. In farming practices, it can take the form of lack of access to loans, farm land and consumers but most often takes the form of immigration policy and imbalanced persecution of laborers vs harmful working conditions and hiring practices. The barriers that exist are often set up intentionally. Oregon has an ugly history of creating exclusion laws set up to keep black people out of the state. OPB has an excellent short film about Oregon's Black Pioneers and the struggles they faced. We highly recommend it and if you need a little extra incentive, Corvallis is mentioned in it a few times.

We don't believe that we can afford to be silent on this matter. The well-being of our country is at stake. We want to make it clear that we stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and with the efforts of all organizations that are working to level the playing field for marginalized populations.

We invite you to take time to learn more, here are some resources:

To learn about the role that capitalism plays in the history of slavery, listen to the NYT 1619 podcast. We especially invite you to listen to episodes 4 and 5 to hear about the connection this has to the modern black farmer struggle.

For parents looking to have conversations about racial equity with their kids, we recommend: Raising Equity

For fellow business owners or office managers, we recommend The Mouse and The Elephant , a different kind of Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

A beginners guide to taking action towards Racial Equity from National Young Farmers Coalition: Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit

We invite you to take action

Have honest and open conversations about what is happening and the role that history, laws and silence play a role.

Visit these websites to sign petitions and read more about what you can do.

Black Lives Matter

We invite you to resist the tendency to "put a band-aid on it" and go further. Shopping at black owned businesses is a nice gesture but it won't create real, lasting and institutional change. Visit Color of and League of Women Voters to read about how your actions can lead to lasting change.

Lastly, we want to thank you for reading this and choosing at least one thing to create positive movement towards a better future for all of us.

Older Post Newer Post


  • Flo Leibowitz

    Jun 27, 2020

    Thank you for this lucid encouragement to learn more. The modern circumstances of black farmers is not often highlighted and I’ll be eager to educate mysrlf.

  • Barbara Landau

    Jun 08, 2020

    Thank you for providing resources to help me learn more and for this very thoughtful piece.

  • Laura

    Jun 08, 2020

    I second what Teresa said, Yadira! Thank you for speaking up, sharing resources, and putting out this call to action!

  • TIna

    Jun 08, 2020

    Thank you for speaking up Yadira! Your strength and compassion are heartwarming. We will be stronger because of people like you and Nate.

  • Teresa Cornwell

    Jun 06, 2020

    Thank you, Yadira! Your thoughts are eloquently expressed and your options for further educating ourselves appreciated. We support and respect your message and strength to speak up.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published