Majora Carter interviews the owner and workers at a Chicago based apiary and a cosmetics line made from their honey. The business prioritizes employing returning citizens.
The story contains some of the perspectives of Black people learning to nurture bees and create nurturing products out of a need to make a living in an environment that’s not life-affirming for them all the time.
I’m reminded how I explain to people, usually when they are trying to make sense of me as a genderqueer Black person who lives in a city, why I keep bees: Bees represent communities under attack. Some of the forces threatening their survival are the same ones that threaten mine. Who better to nurture them and be nurtured by them than me and my community? Who better to build a shared understanding of resistance, collaboration, justice and sustainability? I can think of no better ally to Black people than this imported, overworked and oppressed species. We have so much to learn from each other.
Though this story has it’s problems—direct message me if you want to talk to me about it—I see the value in projects like this. It makes me hopeful that we can build a shared understanding of the effects the prison industrial complex, patriarchy, capitalism, and racism have had on our communities. In the world I want to live in, no one is thrown away.
**Note: The story uses the term “ex-offender” but I’m choosing to use “returning citizens.”