For those who have followed our work supporting indigenous peoples and the indigeneous crops that grow around the world, we would like to correct an error made on behalf of those efforts.
For the last two years, the “Rediscovered Foods Initiative” has included a long list of organizations doing important work in support of underutilized, neglected, and forgotten foods. We strive to align ourselves and our work with the Black Lives Matter movement in all ways personal and professional. Therefore, we are taking action to officially remove the word “Rediscovered” from this keystone project due to the negative power embedded within the root word “discovered” and the history it represents.
We stand against police brutality and all racially motivated violence against Black people. We stand in solidarity with non-violent protests against the oppression of all people of color.
While our work is rooted in fairness and it breaks our hearts to witness cruelty and injustice, we now know that we have perpetuated part of that pain by naming the project Rediscovered. As we continue to examine our own biases, we also pledge to learn more about structural racism. Our emerging awareness urges us to respond to our own overdue realization that we overlooked or ignored the fact that the word “Rediscovered” can be seen as a source of pain to indigenous peoples. For that, we apologize to all indigenous peoples. We do not wish to perpetuate the reverberations of colonialism on Native Americans or any other Native peoples. We thank the Black Lives Matter movement for having shined a brighter light on the effect of this word and for affording us the fertile terrain to examine our use of it related to our work.
In the wake of the heinous murders of George Floyd and many other Black people, we are obligated to examine everything we say and do because structural racism is at the core of our food systems. It is our privilege to document and work towards advancing food systems by uplifting local, people-first movements. We support a broader recognition of indigenous sovereignty and all actions that seek to address the brutal and unfair legacies of colonialism, genocide and oppression. The word “rediscovered” reinforces those overtones and we apologize for not seeing that sooner.
Moving forward, we commit ourselves to a constant examination of how language can perpetuate systemic racism. We are grateful for this opportunity to rethink the way we talk about forgotten foods, especially as we approach Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We have chosen “Reawakened” as a title for the project and hope this change aligns with our goal of deeply caring for and respecting indigenous peoples and cultures. Our goal is always first and foremost to support local farmers, many of whom we rely heavily upon for their ancestral knowledge to heal the planet.
Our implicit biases are keeping us all from being one planet and rising together. Perhaps best sung by Mavis Staples on the Hozier track “Nina cried Power”; It’s not the waking, it’s the rising! We will strive to meet the moment and rise towards justice and equality with the Reawakened project in the days ahead and we ask our comrades in the food system to do the same.
— Laura Howard-Gayeton
Executive Director, The Lexicon