Proteus Supports Black Lives Matter Movement

Categories: News

Proteus Supports Black Lives Matter Movement

A message from Proteus, Inc. CEO, Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel

What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others is devastating and should not happen to another black person again because black lives matter. We at Proteus see firsthand the systemic and institutional racism rooted across all industries, especially with the farmworkers we work with. Many of the inequities agricultural workers experience today, such as lack of worker protections and no paid leave, are rooted in slavery and post-slavery racist laws.

The number of black farmers decreased from close to 1 million a century ago to 32,000 today. In the three states where Proteus provides services to farmworkers (Iowa, Nebraska, and Indiana), there are 173 black farm owners out of 188,748 total farms.

Black farmers on average make $150,000 less than their peers. Many were discriminated against when applying for operating loans. In Mississippi specifically, black family farms lost almost 800,000 acres of land between 1950 and 1964, which translates to over $3.7 billion in financial loss. This led to future generations of black families losing out on wealth and other farming opportunities.

For over 40 years, Proteus has provided services to farmworkers and their families to overcome inequities such as access to educational, healthcare, and other necessary services to meet their basic needs.

All of us must play a role in becoming anti-racist to address the inequities we see today. Proteus commits to continue this work within our organization and in our communities. This is only the beginning. We look forward to providing all employees and board members with training and continuing to engage in conversations to dismantle racism across systems, structures, and within our organization as part of our overall diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

As the leader of Proteus, I am committed to listening, putting in the labor to continue educating myself, and using my privilege and power for good. I look forward to doing this at Proteus and across our broader community.