For the U.S. hemp industry, Black History Month means taking the time to acknowledge the past, while taking action for the future. From enslavement to systemic racism, to the war on drugs and the drug felon ban — many Black Americans face the continued effects of history every day.
As an industry once built on the backs of Black Lives, we feel it’s especially important for US to recognize remaining inequities and injustices in which our organization can help resolve.
That’s why we founded our Minority Empowerment Committee (MEC) in 2020 and adopted the equity and inclusion framework developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In doing so, we agreed to a multi-year, continually-adapting program to promote racial equity and inclusion in every link of the U.S. hemp industry. Today, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable MEC aims to promote economic empowerment for communities of color and minority-owned enterprises by establishing and adopting metrics and timetables for our member firms, advancing policy and legislative reform, promoting mentorship, and generating new business opportunities.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable MEC has provided free online webinars to more than 1,000 small and minority business owners. Last year, the MEC developed an internal DIEB (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging) survey required for its members. At the MEC’s urging, the Roundtable also endorsed the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act that will deliver $5 billion in direct relief to Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic farmers and other agricultural producers of color to help them respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to address long standing inequity in agriculture. Now, the MEC is working with congressional leaders toward the introduction of legislation that will promote hemp research at Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Black History Month holds US accountable and creates an opportunity to access our commitment to minority empowerment within our industry. There’s plenty of work to do, but the U.S. Hemp Roundtable remains steadfast in the steps it’s taking to ensure justice and equity for all.
We are committed to growing a future with a past we can be proud of!
Photo Above: The U.S. Hemp Roundtable Minority Empowerment Committee (MEC), members and staff volunteered for the 2021 Juneteenth Music Festival in Downtown Denver on June 19th, 2021.
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