Worldwide, we lose 150 acres per minute. That equals 3.36 million hectares (8.3 million acres) a year — an area larger than New Jersey. In the United States, 175 acres are lost per hour to development. One acre is equal to 1.32 acres, a little more than the size of a football field. 30,000 acres of land ownership are lost per year in the Black community, that is about 30,000 football fields.  

With understanding these statistics Jillian Hishaw takes us on a 14-year journey of historical research of the United States of America Tactics keeping Tribal Nations from reclaiming their native land and African Americans landless. 

Hishaw begins the book with a personal story of her grandfather’s land in Oklahoma being stolen by a lawyer. To be discovered years later, his childhood home was replaced by an oil pump–leaving the Hishaw family to believe the presence of oil was known, which incentivized the theft of the land. 

“The most tangible asset in the world is land, and with land comes the building of subdivisions, windmills, and extraction of minerals,” Hishaw writes. 

Both chapter eight: The Last Plantation and Black Land Loss, and chapter nine: We Were Only Meant to Farm It, Not Own It, are absolute eye-opening chapters filled with data and a comprehensive look into how the USDA has played a significant role in the yearly loss of African American land.

Hishaw shares at the beginning of the 1900s, African American families owned upwards of 16 million acres, an astonishing amount of land for the most marginalized group of people to hold at the turn of the century. Yet, in 2017 the USDA Census only reported African Americans owning four million acres.

Along with the extreme decline of African American farmers from 1 million to 32,910, with 57 percent having annual sales of less than $5,000, all transpiring within one century.

Through Hishaw explaining the 1997 class-action lawsuit against the USDA Pigford v. Glickman. We learn how systematically land was taken from our communities during the last century. 

The 12 chapters are all accompanied by actual case studies with proven evidence of the systematic land theft that has taken place in this country since the landing of the first Europeans. 

Focused review questions at the end of each chapter to use in your own discovery of land ownership. Urging us as a people to challenge the USDA and other state and federal entities to reclaim our collective loss of African-American  family land of over 15 million acres and the loss revenue of $350 billion in Black American land value. 

While this book focuses on the Plain States of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, it shows the connectivity through historical federal land conservations and ownerships, the misuse of the tax credit, and the enslavement of African Americans by the Five Civilized Tribes how land ownership and land theft in Black communities have historically been one of the nation’s most silent apartheids.

Hishaw guides landowners and community advocates on how to assist and use lived-experiences and research-based solutions to recover land for our communities through her writing.  

“Resolutions of communal living, land trust protection, and banking initiatives is a start to resolving the systematic tactics that have kept one race economically superior over other melanated groups. However, by keeping the land that is the most economical and tangible asset, our communities cannot have a 1,000 square foot condo in Brooklyn or one-fourth of an acre house lot in Atlanta,”Hishaw explains. 

 

Hinshaw has given us a well-executed and timely body of work to study and pass on in a time when we are all finding our way back to our ancestral lands. Hoping to find answers to heal the generational curses, this book gives us a look at the generational blessings that our ancestors tilled in the grounds that we stand on – just for us.