How a History of Stolen Land Shapes Us Today
- Essential Common Future
Our February Spotlight on Land, Wealth, and Ownership
Olayinka Credle, Program Director:
Worldwide, we lose 150 acres per minute. That equals 3.36 million hectares (8.3 million acres) a year — an area larger than New Jersey. In America’s Black communities, 30,000 acres of land ownership are lost per year. Let that sink in for a minute.
Jillian Hishaw, a Common Future network leader and Bridge Fellow, recently published Systematic Land Theft, a book which documents the history of land theft in Black and Indigenous communities. The book highlights which laws and broken treaty agreements have led to the current state of America’s farmland: 95% white-owned. “The most tangible asset in the world is land, and with land comes the building of subdivisions, windmills, and extraction of minerals,” Jillian explains.
What’s more, land theft is not the only way wealth is being stolen. A recent 2018 study found that owner-occupied homes in Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses. From land ownership to home ownership, there is a clear connection between the health and prosperity of black communities in this country — and that connection is historical theft.
As we wrap up the commemoration of Black history this month, we must take a step back and ask ourselves this fundamental question: how can we celebrate the history of our ancestors while neglecting to secure the very futures they died fighting for? At Common Future, our resounding answer is that we secure that future by fighting against the legacy of systemic land theft and oppression, by incubating, cocreating, and funding ideas that shift capital and restore community wealth. In this newsletter you will read about the legacy of land theft, my personal connection to the fight against stolen land, and learn how BIPOC leaders are challenging land theft today.
- The Legacy of Land Theft and its Impact on BIPOC Community Wealth
- How BIPOC Leaders Are Challenging Land Theft
- A Childhood Home, Stolen
In love and power,
- Jillian Hishaw: Systematic Land Theft
- Insider: Black homes in Minneapolis are worth around $33,000 less than white ones. Here’s how one expert says racism devalues black neighborhoods across the country.
- Teen Vogue: What Is the Land Back Movement? A Call for Native Sovereignty and Reclamation
- The Hill: Historic beachfront property returned to Black family 100 years after it was seized
- Vox: The theft of Native Americans’ land, in one animated map
- Pro Publica: Their Family Bought Land One Generation After Slavery. The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It.
- The Atlantic: The Great Land Robbery
- The Root: Black Homeownership at a 10-Year Low According to New Report
We hope you’ll take this time to reflect with us and share what we’re doing to create a more inclusive economy. Like the stories you read? Share them with your network on social and be sure to tag @commonfutureco. Want updates like this directly in your inbox? Click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter.