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Environmentalists must speak up about racism

June 3rd, 2020

Here at the Cascade Forest Conservancy, we work every day to protect the places and people of southern Washington’s Cascades. Some may wonder why an environmental organization should take a stand on an issue some would consider beyond the scope of our mission. We don’t see it that way. Our efforts are regional, but our vision, one in which human communities exist in harmony and peace with the thriving natural world, is global. Racism and racist violence are antithetical to that goal. Environmental wellbeing is not possible apart from social and racial justice.

The protests that have spread across our nation are not solely about the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers. We are still mourning the death of Emmett Till. Of Tamir Rice. Of Sandra Bland. Of Trevon Martin, and countless other precious lives. We are still mourning the historical looting and land theft of the indigenous peoples of our region, and the continuing discrimination and injustice these communities face today.

A majority of our staff benefit from white privilege, as do many other leaders within the environmentalist movement. Historically, conservationists have not been vocal leaders in the long fight for social and racial justice in this country. We can no longer bear to remain in the silence our privilege affords.

At CFC, we are committed to listening, and speaking up when we see injustice–whether that be environmental policies that endanger the health and safety of marginalized communities, unequal opportunities to safely enjoy the benefits wild places provide, unjust laws, or police brutality.

We ask that you join us. Listen to and amplify the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and POC perspectives. Research intersectional environmentalism. Read about the history of Vanport. Educate yourself about the history of indigenous peoples in our region (Vine Deloria Jr.’s Indians of the Pacific Northwest is an excellent place to start) and continue to fight for a world that is sustainable, whole, and where black lives matter.

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