Statement from the Potsdam Food Co-op Board of Directors:
Today is Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, the oldest nationally recognized commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This year, our country is necessarily confronting its history of racism and oppression and the continued fallout caused by it. We should all use this day to consider how, collectively and individually, we will act to address barriers to equality that persist across our country as a result of slavery, segregation, and racism.
Co-operative Principle #1: “…open to all without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.”International Co-operative Alliance, 7 Cooperative Principles
The Co-op was built on the values of inclusion and openness. It was founded in an effort to ensure that everyone has access to the healthy food they need, which is a basic necessity. We remain committed to that inclusion, but when we look around at our Co-op community we must acknowledge that our efforts thus far have fallen short.
Recent events and our feelings in response to them are a reminder that words and reflection are important but insufficient. Our convictions must propel us to act. We must take whatever steps we can to fight inequality, and educate ourselves and others to ensure that we are part of the solution.
The racism in our community has been, and continues to be, invisible to many of us, and yet we know it is here. We will not deny that it exists, and we will do our part to shine a light on it, and address it. Having an all-white board, though it consists of caring and capable community members, means we have a blindspot: We can not know how we are letting the people of color in our community down without a greater diversity of lived experience represented in our leadership. For that reason, the board’s Nominating/Governance Committee will work to increase the diversity of the board through their recruitment efforts. We welcome and appreciate any calling out of subtle or overt ways the Co-op fails to cater to all of our community members. We hope to serve our whole community better when our store reopens on June 22nd.
We are proud to live in a place where so many community members have stood in solidarity with our African American neighbors and compatriots against racial violence and oppression. The rallies and protests in Potsdam have been moving and show our strength, empathy, and commitment to change.
Learn more about Juneteenth at the first annual Juneteenth Celebration Picnic in the North Country (link https://www.facebook.com/events/603942787174147/) This Freedom Day celebration will be held in Potsdam’s Ives Park on Saturday June 20 from 4pm until dark. There will be food, music, and education (with physical distancing and masks, of course).
The Potsdam Food Co-op Board of Directors