The killing of Minnesota resident George Floyd – the latest instance in a long and disturbing history of systemic oppression towards people of color – underscores the urgent need for racial justice and equity in America, according to Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU).
WFU policy, set by members each year at the family farm organization’s annual convention, pledges respect for people of all cultures and races and calls upon “all of us at all levels of society to speak up and never accept or allow hate speech or acts.”
An early supporter of women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, Farmers Union works to support providing equal opportunity for people of all races, genders, ethnicities and ages, with a particular focus on a fair and equitable food system. Despite all the contributions to racial justice work and decades of court cases and policy efforts to dismantle racism, it is clear that it is still a pervasive and destructive element in American society.
“Whether by excessive force, access to capital, school funding or farm aid relief, we cannot stand by and let a group of fellow human beings be brutalized by the system,” said WFU Executive Director Julie Keown-Bomar. “We have to stand up and break the system which privileges one group of people over another.”
In a statement released today, WFU President Darin Von Ruden condemned the ongoing oppression and joined National Farmers Union President Rob Larew in calling for a national effort to address individual, institutional, and structural racism.
From Von Ruden: “The evidence of inequality is right in front of us. We can not stand idly by and watch these acts of oppression continue. Silence makes us complicit. We all must stand in solidarity for our neighbors and for the need for change. The reactions we are seeing in cities throughout the nation are not in response to this single act but rather to a long history of injustices and entrenched racism in this country. We all must reflect on our own privileges and prejudices and demand structural change. This effort will not be easy, but it will be far easier if we are a country united, rather than divided.
We recognize the important work that lies ahead of us, even within our own organization, to reflect deeply, and perhaps uncomfortably, on the ways we may contribute to systems of oppression, in order to better understand how we will play a stronger role in dismantling them."
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