Lauren Moore, Solidaridad Intern, 2023
While all of SAF was incredibly educational and formational for me, the issue which was most revealed to me during my time in my internship is the current and ongoing devastating effects of racialized capitalism.
With SAF I learned the history of agricultural exceptionalism and how farm workers have been exploited from the beginning of America’s history. We traced the through line between the exploitation of enslaved people who were agricultural workers to the exploitation of farm workers today, which has only marginally improved. One of the most memorable moments of this was our tour of the Stagville Plantation, where we toured an old, preserved plantation, learned about the enslaved people who lived there, and about the white family who owned the farm. We walked through some of the old, small living quarters where enslaved people were held and learned about their exploitation, lives, and families being broken apart.
One of the most impactful moments was seeing the fingerprints of the previously enslaved people in the bricks they were forced to make their living quarters out of. This is an image I will remember forever.The connections of the current state of farm work being deeply racist and exploitative as a result of stemming directly back to slavery in America was jarring and impactful for me. This also caused me to reflect on the larger system at play in all of this, which is racialized capitalism. I learned over the semester that capitalism is, fundamentally, structured so that certain people can accumulate capital while others, as a result, cannot. In order to keep some people at the top, some people are forced to the bottom—and this is often deeply racist. This is the injustice, racist system of capitalism at its most fundamental level.
While this is a huge issue to tackle and impossible to do all at once or any time soon, I have learned through the efforts and stories of SAF that it is possible to undermine capitalism and fight back against it in small ways through shared, collective power. The small acts of education, protest, fundraising, work with farm worker youth, and more I participated in with SAF were actions that did not overthrow capitalism, but weakened it and improved farm worker lives. This is what counts, that even if the beast of capitalism is not slain tomorrow, we do not give up and continue to do the work so that one day it will be. My time at SAF has been invaluable to me and I am so thankful for the lessons I learned, and I will take these with me everywhere I go.