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Thoughts on the East Phillips Urban Farm Struggle

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

From the Desk of Ayada

By: Antonette Kamara

Recently a movement has been gaining traction in Minnesota for an urban farm, known as the East Phillips Urban Farm. Within this movement is an environmental justice struggle that brings the global climate justice movement to our backyards. What we see happening worldwide, plastic waste being dumped into communities in South America, and garbage dumped by Europe on the African continent is mimicked here in Minneapolis. The powers that be ignoring their own claims on the campaign trail and disregarding their own laws of acknowledging community struggles, histories, and making things better, is not new.

As a Black woman living in America, this is almost expected. At times like this, it is admittedly difficult to not be disillusioned with the system. It is because once again, I am witnessing the same story that I grew up hearing in history lessons. The function of politicians is to serve the people, and if the people of East Phillips have spoken out against the introduction of more pollution into their communities, why are they being ignored? We are experiencing doors slamming in our faces and peaceful protests are being suppressed. What is the reason for this? Why is there always such resistance and lack of belief in communities? Could it be due to the ethnic makeup of the neighborhood, as well as the lack of tax dollars and campaign funding available in these districts?

In the East Phillips neighborhood, toxic pollutants have been present for decades. As a result, the neighborhood has one of the highest rates of asthma, lead poisoning, and heart disease in the state, according to the East Phillips Urban Farm. I should point out that this is a community composed of Native Americans, Blacks, African immigrants, Latinos, and other marginalized groups. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, if this was a community of rich, white people, something would have been done as soon as these correlations and evidence of negative health effects were discovered, something pointed out in this TikTok.

Minnesota, a state that is already heavily segregated and has some of the highest racial disparities in the country, has an opportunity to make a positive impact. The city of Minneapolis, a supposedly progressive hub in the Midwest, has the potential to realize a dream. The possibility of what sounds like science fiction, simply due to its marvelous and impactful nature, can be realized in our own city. Can you imagine? The use of solar energy, the establishment of an indoor urban farm, the training of workers, and more? However, ask yourself, "Why not?" Do the changes necessary to improve the lives of those who have been squeezed, stepped on, and disenfranchised have to be achingly slow and painfully fought for? Are we to spend the rest of our lives working as organizers to prove that thousands of people suffer every day?

I hope not.

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