Let’s take responsibility for police brutality

and set limits on police response

We continue to receive information about the violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6. One thing has been clear from the very first live video:  the police response was humane, reserved and prioritized protestors’ safety and freedom of speech over destruction of property and a hard line approach. While it is now clear that some in the police forces and in other positions of authority were working against the orderly transition of power, we acknowledge the efforts of those who were working for it.

Most importantly, this is an example of how policing should occur across our country, in all instances of peaceful protest and in all situations where human lives are at stake. If this were the standard for policing, people in South Providence and Black and brown communities across the country would not routinely be killed or harmed by police and feel threatened or anxious when police are present.

The policing double standard in this country harms Black and brown people. And, while many police have had some training in de-escalation, they have not been adequately trained in anti-racism. Rather, it appears that the general public or the “powers that be” expect them to reinforce our racist policing system.

If we truly want our police to respect all Americans’ civil rights and humanity, people across our country – especially white people – need to take responsibility for police brutality and set limits on police behavior. Too many lives have been lost or immeasurably harmed in Black neighborhoods, and in other neighborhoods it is just a matter of time before an abhorrent event occurs.

Historically, Southside Community Land Trust has not been involved in advocating for policing standards in the communities where we own or manage land. However, going forward, the organization will be more intentional about supporting staff, Board members, volunteers, gardeners and farmers who are interested in providing leadership in these conversations.

SCLT is engaged in the process of becoming a more proactive, anti-racist organization. Developing standards for how we engage with the police should be a part of this process. In the meantime, it is our general practice to resolve disputes without involving the local police.

The racist systems that have locked police brutality in place across the U.S. are complex and often obscured from view. We should all understand these systems and the immense pressures and strains they place on both police and our communities. We should be advocating for better laws and policies that will undo them. Especially white people.

Websites such as tolerance.org, The Brookings Institution, and The Brennan Center for Justice can help us become informed and think about how to make a meaningful difference in our communities – and save innocent lives. 

SCLT Staff & Board of Directors. January 29, 2021

2020-21 Race Equity/Social Justice

Goals & Activities

Goal #1  Increase hiring and recruitment/retention and support for people of color on the staff and board. 

  1. Finalize explicit language and clear definition of the organization’s race equity/social justice values and goals. (Staff and Board)
  2. Develop goals for # or % of staff/board who identify as Black, Latinx or people of color.  (Staff RESJ Committee recommendation to Board Executive Committee)
  3. Formalize job posting template (share with staff and board). Include list of languages for bilingual reference in all job postings. Include responsibility for advancing SCLT Race Equity/Social Justice values, goals and activities in all job postings. (Staff)

Goal #2  Create new outside facilitation/training program – including affinity groups (Staff RESJ Committee recommendation to Board)

  1. 1-2 all-staff trainings
  2. 1 all-staff and board training

Goal #3  Increase outreach and services to Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and people of color communities – especially those groups that have not been well represented in SCLT programs (Board and Staff)

  1. Update website re: RESJ values and goals (Staff)
  2. Hold public event in August, 2020, with Rashid Nuri (Staff)
  3. Provide public officials tour (Staff and Board)

Goal #4  All staff and board members feel some responsibility and play a role in advancing the race equity/social justice agenda at SCLT.  (Staff and Board)

  1. Complete online survey of staff and board to determine level of engagement for both groups (Staff and Board)
  2. Continue monthly all-staff Race Equity/Social Justice meetings facilitated by staff members.
  3. Continue regular activities of Race Equity/Social Justice Committee (Staff).
Document based on input from SCLT staff
and board of directors received in 2019 and 2020

On justice & solidarity with BLM

The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. It is justice – Bryan Stevenson

The opposite of outrage is justice

The opposite of racism is justice

The opposite of murder is justice

The opposite of hunger is justice

The opposite of disease is justice

The Black Lives Matter movement is a demand for justice like no other in our times. Sons and daughters all across our country are standing arm-in-arm with community members demanding justice for Black Americans. Their voices are heard because we will not be silent and condone injustice, nor ignore the consequences of institutional racism.

Southside Community Land Trust’s Board and Staff honor the memory of George Floyd and so many others and grieve with their families and those who loved them. We are outraged and saddened, and join the fight to end violence against the countless victims of color whose voices were senselessly silenced by police brutality and the sanctions of racial injustice.

SCLT recognizes that racial injustice is the most significant obstacle to accomplishing our mission. The fundamental reason people of color don’t have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food is because food systems in the United States, along with all other economic and social systems, are structured to deny equal access to Black, Indigenous and all people of color.

If race justice were achieved:

  • All people of color would benefit from lower rates of diet-related chronic disease and live in communities where healthy food is plentiful.
  • All people of color would have access to traditional foods and preparation methods that help preserve their cultures.
  • All people of color would have the means to grow healthy food and succeed as farmers, and to empower their communities by keeping both food and money in their local economies.
  • All people of color would benefit from improved quality of life associated with preparing and enjoying healthy food.
  • All people of color would live in neighborhoods free of toxic pollution and other environmental damage.

In order to accomplish this, SCLT has embarked on a program of work to combat racial injustice both internally and in our communities during the past two years. This work is important because:

  • Most of the people with whom we work and employ are Black and Brown people who face racial injustice every day.
  • Economic and social systems in the United States were built to empower White people. These systems disregard the lives and experiences of people of color.
  • The work we do can create meaningful connections between people of all backgrounds and, if done with this in mind, can advance racial justice.

While SCLT implements practical, on-the-ground programs, their impact is limited if we are not also striving to eliminate the racist constructs that limit their success. This includes continuing efforts to recruit and hire a critical mass of people of color for the staff and board and especially for positions of leadership at the organization. Our commitment at SCLT is straightforward: to oppose injustice, to intentionally promote programs that are anti-racist and anti-poverty and to raise our voices in solidarity with Black and Brown families victimized by police violence.

Please check back here for updates about SCLT’s ongoing race equity work. We will provide information about our internal race equity strategies as well as initiatives developed in partnership with the growers, youth and communities with whom we work.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to join us by buying from local farmers and food entrepreneurs who are Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and people of color (and allies of our work) who would welcome your support. See links below. Clearly, this is merely a start to dismantling racism and white supremacy: We will share other resources and stories of Black and Brown people working in and challenging the injustices of poverty, food insecurity and lack of representation in the RI food and agriculture sectors going forward.

Silence is violence. In justice we stand. Black Lives Matter. Enough is enough. The time to end racism and police violence is long overdue.

SCLT Staff & Board of Directors, June 16, 2020
Please support local farmers, food entrepreneurs and allies of our race equity and social justice work:

SCLT Race Equity

Values Statement

Southside Community Land Trust recognizes that the most significant obstacle to accomplishing our mission is racial injustice.  The fundamental reason all people in the United States don’t have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food is because food systems – along with all other economic and social systems – are structured in a way that denies equal access to Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and all people of color.

If race equity were achieved:

All people of color would have the means to choose to grow and eat healthy food or succeed in a farming occupation.  

All people of color would have access to the traditional foods and preparation methods that help maintain their cultures.

All people of color would benefit from improved quality of life associated with growing and preparing their own food.

All people of color would benefit from local farms and businesses that keep both food and money in their communities.

All people of color would benefit from lower rates of diet-related chronic disease and live in communities where healthy food is plentiful. 

Most of the people with whom SCLT works are faced with racial injustice everyday.  The communities where we work are made up of mostly Black and Brown people. SCLT understands that economic and social systems in the United States have been built to empower white people. These systems disregard the lives and experiences of people of color. 

We also know that the work we do can create meaningful connections between people of all backgrounds and, if done with this in mind, can advance racial justice. While SCLT implements practical, on the ground programs, their impact is limited if we are not also working to eliminate the racist constructs that create obstacles to our success. 

Document based on input from SCLT Staff
and Board of Directors received in 2019 and 2020