A farmer was tilling his field one day, working hard to support his family, when he heard his gate open and close. A hippy came down the garden path to meet him. She was carrying stacks of fliers.
“Hello!” He said, “Fine day we’re having, isn’t it?”
The hippy agreed and made small talk with the farmer for a moment before getting down to business.
“Sir,” she said, “I’ve come to speak to you about pesticides. Do you use pesticides as part of your farming?” When the farmer said that he did, she said, “Sir, are you aware of the amount of damage that pesticides do the environment, including indigenous wildlife? I am here as part of Humans For Justice to ask you to stop buying and using pesticides. Would you be willing to sign our pledge?”
The farmer admitted that she made a compelling case. Pesticides are quite dangerous, and even though he rarely uses them, he agreed to sign her pledge. She handed him her document, and he gave it a quick review. He noticed something in the document that made him pause.
“Young lady,” he asked, “This document says that I will refuse to buy pesticides from three specific companies.”
“Yes,” said the hippy. “And?”
“These three companies are the only ones in the area that are owned by black people. Are you aware of that?”
The hippy rolled her eyes. “Oh...that!” She said. “Don’t worry about that.”
“I won’t.” Said the farmer. “Why are you asking me to only stop buying pesticides from black-owned businesses?”
“I already told you,” said the hippy sharply, “Because pesticides are incredibly dangerous to the environment! It has nothing to do with who owns the companies!” She then proceeded to speak for five minutes straight, in minute detail, about the dangers of pesticides. When she finished, the farmer looked even more confused.
“But shouldn’t I stop buying pesticides altogether, instead of just from black people?” The farmer asked.
The hippy rolled her eyes again. “Look, if you want to stop buying pesticides altogether, go ahead. But Humans For Justice are asking you to stop buying from these specific businesses.”
“Because they sell pesticides, and pesticides are bad!” She waved a picture of a dead bird in his face, “Look at what they did!”
“Are their pesticides worse than pesticides sold by others?” The farmer asked.
The hippy shifted her feet uncomfortably. “No.”
“Are their business practices somehow worse than everyone else?”
The hippy looked at the ground and said, “No.”
“So why these businesses and not the rest?”
The hippy cried angrily, “Because you have to start somewhere!”
The farmer took a step back, surprised by this outburst. He said, “Young lady, I would like to sign this pledge, but the fact that you’re singling out black people makes me uncomfortable. I remember a time in this country when African-Americans were refused business based on the color of their skin, and I have no desire to return to it.”
The hippy rolled her eyes. “I knew you were going to say that. I hear it all the time: you pesticide users are always playing the race card. I bet a black guy told you to say that, didn’t he?” The farmer shook his head in shock. “Look,” she continued, “this has nothing to do with race, okay? I’m asking you to stop buying pesticides from these three businesses because pesticides are dangerous and they kill the environment. Got it?”
At this point the farmer’s wife stepped out onto the porch. “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but I did a little bit of background reading about Humans For Justice, and I don’t like what I’ve found.”
“What did you find?” asked the farmer.
“Well,” said his wife, “I’ve found many statements by HFJ leaders saying that they want to drive all African-American businesses from the state, and they will accomplish this through boycotts. HFJ has been endorsed by a number of white supremacist groups, and many of their members have been caught making racist statements on social media or by hidden microphones. Others have been known to physically attack black people and leave racist graffiti on their homes. Because of this, many state legislators and local politicians have condemned HFJ as a racist movement.”
The hippy rolled her eyes yet again. “Don’t believe everything you read. Maybe some HFJ members have said some questionable things, but they don’t represent the rest of us. Besides, I would bet good money that those business owners lobbied the media to say those things about us. They’ll stop at nothing to sell their pesticides, you know!”
The farmer raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure. Regardless, young lady, though I appreciate your efforts, I’m not going to be signing this pledge. I’d rather not associate myself with a movement like yours.”
The hippy’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sorry you feel that way. But if you keep buying pesticides from these businesses, then you’re complicit in the murder of thousands of innocent plants and animals. And we’re going to protest you until you stop.”
The farmer glanced at his wife. The hippy continued, “I have a lot of friends. We’ll be out here every day with signs and banners telling everyone that you use dangerous pesticides and that your food is contaminated. We’ll leave thousands of negative reviews on social media for your farm. By the time we’re finished, you won’t be able to sell your produce for a hundred miles!”
The farmer looked at his feet for a moment. He finally said, “Young lady, if I sign your pledge, will you leave me in peace?”
The hippy’s face immediately brightened and she smiled widely. “Of course!” She said, “I’m so glad that you decided to see the light and join our cause. Soon the world will be completely rid of pesticide and safe for all animals, thanks to your help.”
The farmer signed. The hippy thanked him and skipped away back down the garden path. “Are you actually going to stop buying pesticides from those businesses?” His wife asked. He shook his head.
The hippy returned to her friends, sure that she had won another victory for her movement. She added the signed pledge to her folder and added the farmer’s name to a list. She went to sleep that night, contented. Tomorrow was another day, and there are always more farmers to talk to.