“Queen Sugar” Author Natalie Baszile: Black Farmers Can Help Save the Planet


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Natalie Baszile knew she was onto something when she got the call from Oprah’s people. A novelist and food justice activist, Baszile had been working for years on a semi-autobiographical novel about a Los Angeles-based Black woman who is unexpectedly faced with reviving an inherited family farm in Louisiana. The book became “Queen Sugar,” was published in 2014 and, with Oprah’s backing, it debuted as a television series on OWN in 2016. It was executive produced by Oprah Winfrey herself and directed by Ava DuVernay. American audiences were getting an intimate glimpse into how reverse migration was reshaping Black life in America.

Now, in a new anthology, Baszile is broadening her scope. In We Are Each Other’s Harvest, Baszile offers up a carefully curated collection of essays and interviews that get to the heart of why Black people’s connection to the land matters. Mother Jones food and agriculture correspondent Tom Philpott recently published an investigation called “Black Land Matters,” which explores how access to land has exacerbated the racial wealth gap in America. The story also takes a look at a younger generation of Black people who have begun to reclaim farming and the land on which their ancestors once toiled.

In this discussion, host Jamilah King talks with Baszile about how this new generation of Black farmers is actually tapping into wisdom that’s much older than they might have imagined.

This is a follow-up conversation to last week's episode, which took a deep look at how Black farmers are beginning a movement to wrestle with history and reclaim their agricultural heritage. Check it out in our feed.

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