Emily Bacha, Communications Director, June 4, 2020
As a global pandemic, the climate crisis, and unjust police violence have disproportionately disrupted and taken the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous partners, it is more clear now than ever that systemic racism threatens the basic health and safety of our communities.
We condemn the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, John Crawford, Henry Green, Tamir Rice, and countless other Black lives taken too soon. We condemn the racist threats made against Christian Cooper and all Black people going about their daily lives who continuously experience suspicion, ostracization, and threats of violence.
At the Ohio Environmental Council, we recognize that the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and safely access nearby nature has been denied to people of color across Ohio and the country for far too long, and we must be part of the solution. The OEC is committed to combating racism and its pervasive, dangerous impacts every day to change our current reality:
We condemn the past, present, and future systemic racism ingrained in our society. We call on our local, state, and national leaders to listen to calls for change, demand justice for those whose lives have been taken, and to transform the systems oppressing, threatening, and murdering people of color.
We stand with all of those marching for justice. Protesting is one of our oldest, most important rights. In fact, no societal progress has ever been made without it. We call for an end to the militarization of police forces which has put this right in danger.
We stand by our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and recognize the urgency with which we must act to dismantle systemic racism:
• We are committed to intentionally building a more diverse and inclusive organization. Like the broader environmental movement, our organization has been led by a predominantly white staff and board for the past 50 years. We must better reflect the diversity of our state. We continue to improve our recruitment and retention practices and we are taking actionable steps to build a more equitable and inclusive work culture. We acknowledge we have much more work to do, and are committed to getting it right.
• We are committed to analyzing our policies and procedures with an anti-racism lens and altering them accordingly.
• We are committed to listening to, recognizing, and amplifying the leadership of those on the frontlines. Specifically, we are committed to building partnerships and finding new ways to share resources and power.
• We know that people of color are more likely to experience the negative economic, health, and social impacts of environmental injustices. We are committed to advocating for policies that fight environmental injustice and supporting leaders in this work.
• We are committed to educating ourselves, our loved ones, our partners, and our supporters on the impacts of racism, white-dominant culture, and the ways in which we can be actively anti-racist in our actions.
We know that days ahead will not be easy and we know there are challenges we must still face. We must all hold ourselves responsible and accountable for calling out injustice and working for change. In this moment of transformative change, the OEC staff and board stand ready to amplify voices of color rightfully calling for a quick end to systemic racism and oppression, and to actively work alongside our partners in the fight for an equitable future.
Rich Shank, OEC Board President
John Marshall, OEC Action Fund Board Chair
OEC Staff Members