Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (2018) by Leah Penniman: Book Discussion with Sustainability Learning Community, September, TBD, Free Ebook available

Please join us for a lively book discussion facilitated by Sustainability Learning Community co-coordinators Katie Hunt (Communication) and Sarah Wyman (English/WGSS)

Here is an intro video about the Soul Fire Farm cooperative on which Farming While Black is based.

See additional videos about Soul Fire Farm and their actions to eradicate “food apartheid” in the south end of Albany, NY and around the world.

Ending racism and injustice in the food system.

Learn more about the best-selling book Farming While Black.

A history of food apartheid, systematic dispossession, and other forms of structural racism in the U.S.A.; a study in environmental justice; a practical manual on aspects of farming from seed keeping to crop planning; a call to the spirit; a cookbook; a teaching resource; and an anti-racist handbook.


Date:  Friday, July 24, 2020

Time:  12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Location: via WebEx:

(further connection options below)

Agenda:  We will focus on pages 1-10 and 245-315, but are open to all topics. Please bring your own knowledge and reflections for a discussion on food justice, US race history, and sustainability education as they intersect with diversity, equity & inclusion, and Soul Fire Farm’s additional models for anti-racist work.

If you need to borrow the book, have one to share, or would like to recommend particular topics for discussion, email (

A free Ebook is available via the Sojourner Truth Library:

Click here to access the e-book:,exact,farming%20while%20black,AND&sortby=rank&mode=advanced&pfilter=rtype,exact,books,AND&offset=0

From the book

Ujamaa: cooperative economics that imagines a non-extractive relationship between producer and consumer, rooted in authentic relationship, not just casual exchange on the market (40).


But all our phrasing – race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy – serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth.  You must never look away from this.  You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions, all land, with great violence, upon the body.

-Ta-Nehisi Coates


White People Uprooting Racism

White supremacy erodes our humanity and is our common enemy.  The white elite created white supremacy, a “historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent for the purpose of establishing, maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege” [Ellen Tuzzolo]. White supremacy infuses all aspects of society including our history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric, producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. What can be created, can be destroyed.  White people need to be active in the dismantling of white supremacy (300).


Personal Development

It’s really frustrating to be in mixed groups or with white folks who will say something like, “Oh I have no culture,” which is something I grew up thinking and believing too… which is, first of all unfair to those who came before us, [and] second of all totally untrue. But it’s also what allows white supremacy to flourish, this concept that there is such a thing as whiteness, and that we’re buying into it… There is so much power in realizing that… there’s so much to find there, that is there [in our lineage], that you don’t have to recreate or take on someone else’s [culture].

Owen Taylor, in Table Underground podcast (Penniman 312).

Discussion questions:

In 1910, 14% of total US farmland was owned by Black families. Now less than 1% is Black owned.  How did this happen? (7)

How do Leah Penniman’s types of decision making privilege consultation and collaboration? What is the effect? (38)

Explaining the concept of structural racism can be a challenge.  How can you use examples from this book to illustrate both the foundations and the effects of structural racism?

How did you respond to the vivid guide to killing chickens? (173)

What is the problem with “white folks” saying they “have no culture?”  See page 312

Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive” (256)  Comment.

How can we clarify our goals for conversation and call in rather than call out when checking white supremacist behavior? (308)

WebEx Meeting Info
Friday, Jul 24, 2020 12:00 pm | 1 hour 30 minutes | (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Meeting number: 161 858 3059
Password: CYdmMZgP427
Join by video system
You can also dial and enter your meeting number.
Join by phone
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll

Access code: 161 858 3059