At Williams-Mystic, we are heartbroken, grieving, and angered by the deaths and recent violence directed at those who are protesting the deaths of George Floyd, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others.
We stand in solidarity with those around this country and world who protest racism, bigotry, xenophobia, oppression, and systemic injustice. Recent protests in the US attest to the persistence and virulence of anti-Black racism in particular. It is this particular struggle which we speak in response to today.
Black Lives Matter.
Black Americans have always been central to this history of this country and its relationship to the ocean and the environment. Equally, Black Americans must always be central to the fight against climate change. Climate change and sea-level rise are not equal-opportunity phenomena. They exacerbate existing injustices, particularly injustices perpetrated against Black communities. The fight against climate change must always also be a fight against environmental racism and environmental injustices.
We do not offer this statement as supporting evidence for the self-evident truth that Black Lives Matter. Rather, this is just one of many facets of what is lost when Black lives are taken. The immeasurable loss of Black life must always be foremost in our minds as a tragedy in and of itself.
These events are causing suffering and uncovering unhealed wounds. As educators, we recognize that our education system is entrenched in institutional racism, and also has the potential to be a powerful force for change. For the sake of our students, professors, leaders, staff, and communities across this country, we are determined to move forward. Together we must create a future where the idea that some of our people are not safe going for a jog, entering a store, standing in their backyard, or even sleeping in their own home will be as unthinkable as it should be today. As we all confront the difficult days ahead, we celebrate the entire Williams-Mystic community who fight for justice and encourage you to take an antiracist stand. We are standing in solidarity with our Black students and alumni as well as our other students and alumni of color, all of whom may be disproportionately impacted by the violence directed at protestors.
For those of you who want to learn more and get involved, we recommend this list from the NAACP of organizations involved in environmental and climate justice. We especially want to highlight the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, which does vital work in the Gulf Coast region. Another fantastic resource is this list of people of color active in the environmental movement, compiled by climate justice writer Mary Annaïse Heglar.
Please stay tuned as we share additional thoughts and resources.