WHO ARE WE AND WHAT ARE WE DOING
Black Land Ownership is a grassroots organization, founded by Christopher Banks Carr and Melissa Hunter Gurney, to combat the historical, systematic and institutionalized marginalization experienced by people of African descent. Our goal is to centralize information, raise funds and encourage/empower black people to purchase more land specifically in rural areas. Our research, although specific to the Black community, absolutely reveals the need to raise awareness for other marginalized groups - women, trans, indigenous, immigrants - with limited resources or capital. Black land ownership, as an entity, is inclusive of these groups. However, it is imperative to recognize the outrageous mistreatment and disparity aimed at Black people not only in the U.S. but worldwide.
**We are nonpartisan and would want to work with any organizations that share our convictions and goals around this issue.
Five years ago the founders of Black Land Ownership started a community organization in Brooklyn with the intent of providing a platform - whether it be oriented to art, literature, academia, education or political activism - for underrepresented groups.
After renting three different spaces in the past four years we have realized how difficult it is to sustain communities like ours due to exorbitant rents, unsupportive landlords and the continuous buying and selling of space in NYC. It’s also important to mention that during this ongoing pandemic community art spaces are closing all over the nation because rents are literally unsustainable in this climate.
This project is a call for change. An investment in the future of black owned land and in turn black owned community and black owned capital. This project allows us to learn and continue to support all marginalized groups in the purchasing of large amounts of rural land. Our work does not stop with this 40 acres; it merely starts here and we are asking for your help to reverse the narrative and the data so that in 2030 the visual data looks different.
HOW MUCH MONEY
In order to make this happen we are working to raise $250,000 dollars in order to buy this property outright, pay our first five years of taxes and get our first natural building project up and running.
Here are some pictures of the Property:
WHAT WE WILL DO WITH THE LAND/PROPERTY
Once we own the property we would like to be able to offer opportunities like conferences, yoga retreats, field trips for youth and other gatherings at no cost because we don’t have a hefty rent or mortgage to sustain. The possibilities involved in this much acreage are boundless and allow us to engage in endeavors as large as starting an education center geared around anti-racist and anti-colonialist theory, rooted in Pan-African philosophy, historical accuracy and indigenous health.
Other ideas that we are considering for the land and houses would include:
• A yearly outdoor music festival
• Artists residency programs, an apiary
• Small level sustainable farming
• Sculpture park (think of Stormking)
• Reintroduction to wilderness survival training
• Self-defense for women/marginalized groups
• Rites of passage weekends for young people
Part of our initiative is to educate young people on the ways in which ownership of land in the United States dictates systems and institutions within our economic structures, educational structures, structures of law and justice, community structures and political structures. Right now, we are engaged in a pilot program with a group of students at A-Tech High School in Brooklyn to research the history of land ownership in the United States including the specific factors that led to the racial disparity we see today. Our goal is to develop a corporation made up of mostly young people with the possibility of fundraising and eventually purchasing a small plot of land to donate to environmental organizations or communities in need. This project is being done without funding in order to document the process and offer an interdisciplinary project/curriculum with guest experts and guides from our organization to other schools who desire an opportunity like this for their students.
HISTORY OF BLACK LAND OWNERSHIP
Three years ago I (Chris Carr) had a chance to travel through California, Colorado and Texas. Throughout my travels I noticed a disconcerting pattern—the erasure of blackness and the marginalization of Black folks when it came to land. Whether it was gentrification of land in Denver or Austin, rural land communities void of blackness in Grand Junction, Colorado, the tech industries that took over in Northern California displacing Black Folks in the Oakland and San Francisco area or Los Angeles and the conversations people were having around immigration and Black folks being moved out of areas that were traditionally Black owned now consumed by white developers—the phenomenon seemed to reach as far and wide as the land did.
While in Colorado, I started asking questions, the first of which was simply how is there so much open land and the second being who owns all his land? I was fascinated to see how little rural land is owned by Black people in this country and even more fascinated to see that there was more rural land owned by Black folks 100 years ago than there is now. I wondered why Black people seemingly gave up on rural land and farming? It didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t by choice—actual government policies and legislation put in place to marginalize Black folks and dispossess them of their land were responsible for this drastic change. I also noticed private institutions that made land ownership for Black folks difficult - whether it be the people who wouldn't sell to them or the banks that wouldn't give them loans.
After a number of months, milling over the findings and reflecting I realized people of African descent being landless or displaced is an issue that has occurred anywhere colonialism has happened. I also realized not enough is being done to combat the historical, systematic and institutionalized marginalization experienced by people of African descent when it comes to land ownership. So with the help of my partner and some other folks we started a grassroots organization and named it bluntly—Black Land Ownership. The goal of Black Land Ownership is simple—we aim to reverse the data and the damage by . . .
•Centralizing resources, information and funds for black people interested in buying land.
• Funding land projects that supports the black community artistically, economically, agriculturally and educationally
• Supporting collaborations with students across the country to research, buy and preserve otherwise unfinanceable land in an effort to protect our environment and/or give back to communities in need.
• Lobbying for politicians or groups that are champions for black land ownership or associated causes.
Statistics like the following come with a story of individual as well as systemic racism, discrimination and hate specifically targeting black people in America in ways other groups are not targeted. Black Land Ownership will be working relentlessly to progressively change the data around rural land ownership and make sure these shifts help affect the future of land ownership for the black community in the United States and beyond.
The most recent report released by the United States Department of Agriculture, Who Owns the Land, offers these statistics and more as it exposes America’s massive disparity in land ownership.
African Americans, despite making up 13 percent of the population, own less than 1 percent of rural land in the country. The combined value of this land: $ 14 billion.
White Americans, by comparison, own more than 98 percent of U.S. land amounting to 856 million acres with a total worth of over $1 trillion.
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE. KNOW THAT 100% OF YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS WILL GO DIRECTLY TO THIS PROJECT.
If you are unable to contribute monetarily, but are still interested in supporting, please share this link!! Every little bit helps. PEACE