From the author of Queen Sugar — now a critically acclaimed series on OWN directed by Ava Duvernay — comes a beautifully rendered collection of essays, poems, photographs, and interviews exploring the vast history of black farming in the American south.
Expertly compiled by bestselling author Natalie Baszile, Book Title TBD is an anthology of essays, poems, photographs, quotes, conversations, and interviews exploring the history of black farming and black people’s connection to American land from Emancipation to the present. In three key parts, this eclectic collection helps communities of color reimagine what it means to be dedicated to the soil.
In the 1920s, there were over 1 million black farmers. Their dedication to the craft tackled predatory and restrictive loans from banks to earn a settlement of over $1 billion, the largest amount of money ever paid to citizens in a discrimination case. Today, there are just 45,000 black farmers, a drop from 14 percent to just 1.3 percent of the national population. Book Title TBD, black farmers in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s share why they have continued to farm despite continued discrimination from the United States Department of Agriculture and land loss due to the informal passing of land from generation to generation. The "Returning Generation"—farmers in their 20s, 30s and 40s, build upon their legacy by addressing issues of food justice, food sovereignty, and reparations.
These farmers are joined by a cast of influential voices: Baszile sets the scene at the supermarket that sparked her interest in food justice the stories of black farmers; award-winning author Clyde W. Ford follows with an introduction that chronicles the arrival of Africans on American shores; best-selling novelists, Lalita Tademy and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, who discuss their own connection to Louisiana and how they came to write novels set there; and James Beard Award-winning writers Osayi Endolyn and Michael Twitty write about black culinary tradition and its African roots. Poetry and inspirational quotes are woven into these diverse narratives, supplementing the essays with beautiful, lyrical language.
Book Title TBD elevates the voices and stories of black farmers and people of color, celebrating their perseverance and resilience, while drawing attention to the challenges they continue to face. Black farming informs the family, women’s issues, ideas of beauty, and race relations—all crucial, defining aspects of American life. The land, well-earned and fiercely protected, transcends history to signify a home that can be tended, tilled, and passed along to one’s children with a sense of security and pride. Complete with stunning four-color photographs from Baszile’s personal collection and OWN’s Queen Sugar, this beautifully packaged volume is a reminder and reclamation of one of the most necessary acts of sustaining human life.