The UN Principles on Reparations and Immunity, which provides basic guiding principles around gross human rights violations, holds that “reparation should be proportional to the gravity of the violations and the harm suffered.”

Discussions around reparations in this country have been of special interest to Black farmers. The litany of societal abuses heaped upon them includes the broken promise of 40 acres and a mule, lynchings that targeted landowners, discrimination by the federal government, and heirs property exploitation.

As a result, the number of Black farmers has declined from 14% of the nation’s farmers in 1910 to less than 2% today–with a corresponding loss of more than 12 million acres of land. Melissa Gordon’s thesis research at Tufts University shows wealth denied the Black community through farmland loss exceeds $120 billion.

While cynics predict the extinction of the Black farmer, the farmers themselves are not giving up. “Not on our watch,” says Rafael Aponte, livestock farmer in western New York, when asked whether Black farmers are dying out.

A new wave, part of the “returning generation” of Black farmers whose grandparents and great-grandparents fled the racial violence of the South, are now finding their way back to the land. They are building on the legacy of organizing and resistance in their lineages and working to create an infrastructure for reparations.

Three nascent, farmer-led organizations, formed within the last two years, are working to repair the harm to Black farmers over the past 400 years. “We are making the road as we walk,” Aponte asserts.

Read the full article about Black farmers' reparations by Leah Penniman at YES! Magazine.