The Farmer Logo

Letters: Racism and the recent unrest in Minneapolis are tough topics to discuss.

August 17, 2020

7 Min Read
white Caucasian and black African American hands holding together
READERS WRITE: The August Farm Talk column by editor Paula Mohr drew numerous letters from readers. The column addressed racism and the Minneapolis riots.OcusFocus/Getty Images

Paula:

I commend you for your excellent column in the latest edition of The Farmer [“Our turn to listen learn”]. The statement that "Democracy dies in darkness" is so very true. I am a farmer living in a rural county. It is easy for us to ignore racism because all of my friends and neighbors are white. I am totally disgusted with all the looting and burning. It is obvious that the thieves join the crowd so they can loot without getting caught. They burn the store to hide any evidence of who are the looters and burning destroys the video cameras.

These professional thieves do not give us the right to judge people by the color of their skin. We are the most productive farmers in the world. We sell what we produce to every person in America and to people living in more than 50 countries. Millions of those who buy from us are not white. We have allowed bigotry to go unchecked. We must learn to treat all people with respect, or we are going to lose a lot of customers. With 15 billion bushels of corn, we are going to need a lot of markets.

Just three years ago, almost 40% of all the corn we grew was delivered to an ethanol plant. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association just hosted a buying team from Indonesia. As their population grows the third world countries are going to need a lot of ethanol to reduce their pollution.

Jim Nichols,
Lake Benton, Minn.

‘We do not care about the color of a person’s skin’

Dear Paula:

My wife and I have lived in Minnesota all of our lives. We have seven kids, two of them are vested in the operation, three are on the payroll and another two work off the farm, and we have 12 grandkids.

Our operation employs 40 to 60 people. We are self-made and believe me, we have seen the edge and have lived on the edge in our lifetime of farming. We employ all kinds of people from many different ethnic backgrounds. We are farmers working with extremely low margins and we do not care about the color of a person’s skin.

In our operating, we are governed by a set of values, not the color of a person’s skin.

I think from early on we are conditioned to segregate black from white and all other races. If you don’t believe me just fill out an employment application for the government.

Why would you even mention the convicted felon George Floyd? He is a thug!

Imagine, Paula, if you were colorblind, and if in America, only good people existed, and bad people existed? What would that look like to you? I firmly believe in life you will never grow up if you spend your life blaming someone else for your problems.

Todd Malecha,
Villard, Minn.

‘Just the right words’

Editor:

As far as I'm concerned, you used just the right words in your Farm Talk piece.

Thanks much for tackling this issue.

Mary Evers,
St. James, Minn.

‘We really do have to listen and look within’

Paula:

Let me say that was a fantastic article. It could not have been written any better. I was so impressed with that.

I am a retired farmer, age 66, farmed all my life and like most, have been sheltered from people who are not like the majority of us white privileged folks. I have three kids, none whom farm but have moved off to bigger cities to work and live. I have learned a lot from my children in regard to understanding the problems and life of the people in the city who are not as fortunate as us to live in a rural area.

I learned a long time ago that I had no reason to hate people that are different from me.

I thought that racism would end with my generation, but I don't know if it will. I just think that people have to stand up like you did with your article and explain that we really do have to listen and look within. Again, what a wonderful article, Paula, GREAT WORK!

Michael Owens,
Holloway, Minn.

Ignoring, denying the problem won’t fix it

Dear Editor:

I have enjoyed reading The Farmer for a number of years. I’m a retired attorney and own farmland in Mitchell County, Iowa, some of which I purchased and some I inherited.

I normally do not write letters to the editor, but your editorial in the August 2020 issue was spot on. I suspect you may get some negative blowback, so I thought a positive response would be helpful.

Racism is a serious and long-term problem in this country. It is systemic in our schools, our judicial system, and yes, in our law enforcement. Racism is regularly exploited by our politicians. They need to be called out clearly and often. Simply ignoring or denying the problem will not make it go away. It will only get worse and the solutions only get more difficult and drastic.

More to the point, what happens in our rural communities affects our urban communities. Whatever happens in our big cities obviously affects rural communities economically and socially.

Your admonition to listen more and look within ourselves is a good one.

Stay safe and keep speaking out.

Brian L. Weber,
Chicago, Ill.

Keep partisan politics out of The Farmer

Editor:

I write to express my disappointment in the article, “Our turn to listen and learn,” published in the August edition of the Farmer.

As a trade journal, The Farmer is an inappropriate forum for the discussion of partisan political issues not directly germane to agriculture (e.g., trade policy). The bitter divide that plagues this country stems in large measure from the politicization of virtually every aspect of our lives. A healthy democracy requires spaces where people of differing views can interact and relate to each in a nonpolitical context. Lacking such spaces, mutual trust and respect erodes and reasoned discussion becomes impossible. Your readers are already well aware of the issues raised in your article and the article serves no good purpose but to politicize a forum which ought not be politicized.

Disappointed as I am in The Farmer’s foray into partisan politics, I am even more disappointed that it chose to unthinkingly echo the false and destructive narrative that this country is systemically racist and suffers from a plague of white privilege. Space does not allow for a full discussion of the matter but suffice it to say that if the term systemic has any meaning at all, this country is the very anthesis of systemically racist (systematically Woke being much closer to the truth).

The great irony of it all is that the critical race and neo-Marxist thinking underlying the systemic racism/white privilege narrative is itself racialist, if not outright racist, seeing people not as individuals but merely as the product and expression of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

This country, being human, is not perfect. But it has provided, and continues to provide, more opportunities for more people (including people of color) than any other country on earth. Were it not so, tens of millions of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans would not wish to immigrate here. The systemic racism/white privilege narrative is both counterfactual and destructive, and it is regrettable that it finds succor in your publication.

Jack Forsberg,
Mendota Heights, Minn.

Time to understand the struggles of others

Editor:

Just read your viewpoint and totally agree with you. It is time we white people try to understand what people of color go through. My wife and I are close friends with a black couple and understand some of their concerns.

Keep up the good work.

Karl Johnson,
North Mankato, Minn.

We must rise to meet the challenge

Dear Ms. Mohr:

Thank you for your thoughtful perspectives in the August issue of The Farmer.

It was very well written. I especially appreciated the final five paragraphs that directly challenge us as producers and industry leaders to do what we continually ask of our consumers, to listen and understand.

I sent this to others who I feel need to set this challenge to their organizations.

Bravo! You need to be very proud of this piece. I understand the courage it took to write and publish.

Jill Weber VanDerWal,
Sanborn, Minn.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like