From NBC News / Washington Post:
Black farmers say reverse discrimination has never been evident in their industry — but that may not stop the idea from being used to upend civil rights law.
June 6, 2021, 9:31 AM PDT
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are fighting an intensifying proxy war over race and farming that could have much broader implications for the federal government’s ability to direct aid to people of color.
The fight centers on which farmers get taxpayer help at a time when Biden has pledged to focus on equity and reversing systemic injustices across federal programs. Trump’s allies argue that the same criteria long used to discriminate against farmers of color — race and ethnicity — can’t be used to make them exclusively eligible for federal programs.
Whites have civil rights, too, they say in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas.
For Black farmers and civil rights groups, that’s a proposition that defies reality
That’s an interesting statement.
— and yet they are taking it very seriously, with generations of civil rights law potentially in the balance.
“How is it OK for the government to harm on one hand but not to remedy on the other hand?” asked Cornelius Blanding, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.
Blanding said Black farmers are worried that a federal court could block all programs that direct aid to farmers of color. If that happens, he said, it only makes sense that federal programs to assist people of color outside agriculture law would be next on the target list.
It’s almost as if the 14th Amendment requires equal protection of the laws.
“We’re concerned. … You never know how it’s going to go,” Blanding said, adding that if you’re a Black farmer “you have seen that things didn’t always work in your favor.”
Under Trump, the vast and disproportionate majority of trade-war-related relief money went to non-Hispanic white farmers — about 99.4 percent, according to one study.
Do you ever hear about black farmers except when a new Democratic Administration comes into office and immediately hands them billions?
Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan set aside about $5 billion to wipe away the debts of Black, Hispanic and Asian farmers while providing them with $1 billion in technical assistance.
“The effort to assist Black farmers comes after decades of systemic discrimination and exclusion,” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in a statement.
The Morials, of course, are a famous rural farming family who happened to keep being elected Mayors of New Orleans for some reason.
“Throughout the 20th century, Black farmers were denied the loans and subsidies available to white farmers, and untold generational wealth has been lost as a result.”
As we all know, blacks are incredibly good stewards of generational wealth and thus always hand down every penny they ever made to their heirs. Who has ever heard of a black father not selflessly working himself to the bone to provide a huge legacy to his children?
… The Agriculture Department is racing to implement the debt-relief policy, said Dewayne Goldmon, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s senior adviser for racial equity. …
The effort is complicated by a dearth of demographic data about farmers and about federal farm lending by race.
Often, the federal government has been a tool of discrimination rather than equity, from promoting slavery to the injustices that led to the 1999 Pigford settlement of lawsuits alleging discrimination against Black farmers, which has made some farmers reluctant to self-identify by race or ethnicity.
The Clinton Administration handed out a gazillion dollars to black farmers to settle the Pigford case, so that would encourage the huge number of black farmers to fail to self-identify as black because of reasons. Anyway, the giant Pigford settlement of discrimination claims was back in the 1990s, so it’s time for another giant payout for purported discrimination in the misty past because we hope you’ve forgotten about the Pigford payout by now, not to mention the Pigford II payout in 2008.
Who can remember anything that has happened since redlining? This is 2021, so nobody can remember the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. The last clear memory anybody has about race is Emmett Till.
The point is that there is no amount of money that whites can ever pay that will settle their debts to blacks.
… Now, it is moving into a phase in which a second set of letters will go out telling about 13,000 farmers that they are eligible for the program and checking the details of the loans they got from the federal government. Most of the debts could be erased within a couple of months. In a second wave, the Agriculture Department plans to dispose of a few thousand guaranteed loans, which tend to be larger and more complex.
But all of that could come to a halt even more quickly than it started. In addition to the underlying suit, America First Legal filed a motion asking the judge to issue a preliminary injunction against the Agriculture Department’s awarding aid on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Do whites have civil rights? That seems to be an extremely important question that is up in the air in 2021.