‘It’s not fair, not right’: How America Treats Its Black Farmers
Sugarcane farmers can’t survive without large crop loans. For the Provosts, who say they suffered decades of discrimination, this could be the end of the line.
On the summer day in 2014 that June Provost found three stray cats dead and lined up side by side in his tractor, the forecast had called for rain. It was hot and overcast, the air like a heavy and suffocating blanket, and the sugarcane was already 6ft high.
Wenceslaus Provost Jr – who has gone by the name June since he can remember – stared in shock at the cats, each one with the tabby markings of strays. He could see no visible lacerations, no insides spilling out. He guessed it had been the work of a BB gun or a strangling.
He looked away, disgusted. As the breeze rattled through the sugarcane leaves, he thought: “This is a warning.”
A year earlier, June and his wife, Angie, had found a chain tied around the steering wheel of a tractor and the hydraulic lines stuffed with mud. But the dead cats were a marked escalation in intimidation. The following day, June found the windows of another tractor shot out. Later that season, someone hid cinderblocks in Angie’s fields to ruin the equipment.