Welcome to Black Cotton, a company that is going to change the game for you, me, all of us. Black Cotton comes from us, and is meant for us! For many years, cotton was the number one crop our people produced in the South, by our hands and feet, for no wage or compensation. After the Emancipation Proclamation, many of our ancestors made mere pennies off of the cotton produced from sharecropping. What’s worse, for the amount of money that’s made in the same industry today, black cotton farms are still making just pennies compared to the billions earned by their counterparts.
I grew up in this system of poverty cotton farming. My farm home county of Northampton County in North Carolina is one of the poorest performers of economic health in the state by county, but it’s also ranked number two in the state for cotton production. Are we raising crops for our communities to suffer? As a black farmer, it has been depressing to see each year go by with farming communities struggling and deteriorating, while our efforts continue to be exploited across the world for others to profit.
In the last two years, I have traveled across my state and region of the country, and I’ve realized that black cotton farmers are essentially extinct. At many of the conferences and workshops I went to that focused on farmers of color, I would quickly find out that I was the youngest cotton farmer attending, or worse, the only cotton farmer attending. It made me think that in the near future, I may be the last black cotton farmer left. How did we lose our industry, the values, and all the traditions our ancestors worked so many years to build, only to not be able to capitalize off the blessing that it is to be able to raise cotton? Rural black people need an opportunity to make money off of the resources that are taken from so casually from their environment and given so much more value elsewhere. It’s time we take back control of our products.
We have lived in a society that has been controlled by systems we may not agree with for far too long. We have worn their clothes every single day when we should have been wearing our own. We have the ability to control this product, we can harvest it, and we can build our own working supply chain to develop our own goods. How can we expect to inspire change and foster opportunity in our own community if we don’t take back what’s rightfully ours? This product is to be worn in spirit with having the blood of a slave, and the heart of Queens and Kings. Black Cotton is not just a name, but it’s what’s right. Support our colored manufacturers and producers of this gift made from earth, and together, we can grow Black Cotton.
Julius Tillery, Founder of BlackCotton.US