Right now, there is pain across the nation. The outrage caused by the senseless killing of George Floyd, among other recent high profile incidents of racial injustice, has been another reminder of our failure to address a history of racism and economic injustice in this country. Communities across the country are experiencing the terrifying weight of this frustration with nationwide protests and social unrest. Worse yet, we are being met with a mix of silence and inflammatory rhetoric from our nation’s President, at a time when we could not be more in need of a calming, compassionate voice.
In this time of upheaval, we cannot ignore, minimize, or walk away from the United States’ racist past. This past is with us today – in our criminal justice system, in the redlining of neighborhoods, in inequalities in our education and economic systems, and in health and environmental burdens borne disproportionately by communities of color.
As an organization rooted in the ideals of public service and environmental protection, we must draw strength from our nation’s diversity and be more inclusive in our work and our lives. We must fight for the ideals of equality and racial justice and recognize that we cannot fix our nation’s environmental and public health problems without addressing the underlying systemic inequities of racism and economic oppression. As environmentalists, our work cannot only be to protect the planet, but also to protect the inhabitants – especially those whose voices, fears and frustrations aren’t always allowed to be heard.
With our democracy under attack and corruption deeply rooted in government, our fight is not to return to the status quo, but to work for a more clean, healthy, just and fair country for everyone.