The Black Family Land Trust, Inc. African American Land Ethic is the introduction to our Wealth Retention and Asset Protection program. It provides the foundational context for our work; what we do, and why. We define the African American Land Ethic as blending of the concepts of Phenomenology, Land Ethic and Cultural Competence to describe the African American’s historical relationship with the land, and how that relationship dictates what value is placed on land ownership in the United States, particularly land ownership in the rural south. The BFLT’s African American Land Ethic work is informed by the writings, research and conversations of many to include Dianne D. Glave, Dr. Drew Lanham, Aldo Leopold, Dr. Edwin Nichols, Kimberly K. Smith, Isabel Wilkerson and the countless landowners, farmers, elders and young people with whom we have worked.
Is land an asset, or is it a burden that represents the revulsions of slavery, sharecropping, second class citizenship and lynching? Or is land a tangible asset, with economic, human, and spiritual value, which connects African Americans with their rich history in the Americas and their ancestors?
We believe that the African American Land Ethic is the latter, land is an asset. Land ownership represents wealth, power, community, sustainability and economic opportunities for generations yet born. The history and relationship with the land must be reexamined and self-defined in the context of the African American experience in America. We must utilize every tool available to reduce the rate of African America and other historically underserved populations land loss, the African American Land Ethic is where the BFLT begins; honoring the legacy of those stewards of the land that came before us and having faith in those stewards of the land that will come after us.