By Imani Perry Excerpted from The Paris Review
I’m growing microgreens. Every couple of weeks they are sufficiently lush to be snipped and eaten. They sit on my nightstand, and there’s just enough light, coming from an adjacent window, to feed them. Outside that window, I can see a tree that is older than anyone I know. I photograph it frequently, watching it change with the seasons.
As much as I love plant life—trees and flowers—growing food is new for me. It comforts. It feels as though, in this uncertain time, I am connected to the ancestors, the way they’d often grow a little patch of something for sustenance. From the time when the Old South turned into the New South, which I suppose is now old again, most all Black folks spent a lifetime of scraping and scuffling.
Land of one’s own was hard to come by. Despite how often the gospel of “get you some land” was preached, white supremacy wielded its power over the land. But even for the sharecropper, a little patch of something, a rectangle of dirt on which to grow greens, tomatoes, some cabbage, some berries, was protected and nurtured.
Even when the dirt was hard and spent, black hands eked sprouts from it, tended them to fullness. And ate from the bounty...