- Author: Gregory Ira
For over a week, we've witnessed the pain, helplessness, grief, and anger that comes from the ongoing discrimination, bigotry and violence of systemic racism and environmental injustice. From the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, to the racist behavior against a black birder in Central Park, to the killing of George Floyd, these are just recent manifestations of the ongoing trauma that is a reality for people of color. While it is not within the power of a single organization to eliminate racism, it is the moral obligation of every organization to recognize and acknowledge it: Black Lives Matter.
The mission of the California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California's natural resources through education and service. Fulfilling that mission involves eliminating barriers to participation, expanding the relevance of our program content to address environmental justice, building strategic community partnerships, making the healing powers of nature safe and welcoming for everyone, and even acknowledging the colonial roots of the field of natural history itself. But, we know even that is not enough. To be completely true to our mission, our principles of community, and our anti-discrimination policy, we must also show solidarity when the situation demands it. Solidarity eliminates the ambiguity of silence and amplifies the voices of those straining to say: “I can't breathe.”
Together with our naturalists, our community partners around the state, the leadership of UC ANR, the entire UC system, we stand with those communities seeking peaceful change, the fair administration of justice, and a safe and inclusive environment. As UC ANR Vice President, Glenda Humiston clearly stated: “To those within our community who have suffered from such bigotry, we stand with you and with everyone who stands against racism, racial profiling, police brutality and injustice.”