Our country’s 400-plus year history of violence against Black lives has built a system of racism that runs deeply through America’s laws and financial, healthcare, education, housing, and policing institutions. We are saddened by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and the countless others before them and infuriated by the use of violence against those peacefully protesting their deaths.
Our country is in pain. There is work to do everywhere and by every person to heal this pain and repair the damage. At Conservation Lands Foundation, our focus is on leveraging the richness and beauty of America’s National Conservation Lands to help ALL people, communities and our planet to heal -- and to become more resilient for the future.
We stand in solidarity with Black lives. As an organization whose mission is to protect, restore, and expand the National Conservation Lands, we believe that all people have the right to experience, enjoy, and feel safe in the outdoors. Our work is grounded in the belief that conservation starts in communities and communities thrive when they have the knowledge, access and power to make decisions on their own behalf.
We recognize that our mission cannot be fulfilled until our country offers the same freedom, joy, and opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color that are afforded to White communities, whether they are at home, in their neighborhoods, or in the outdoors.
As a conservation organization working within a movement that has its own history with racism and white supremacy culture, our journey has not and will not be perfect. And we’re committed to the effort and journey to dismantle systemic racism and to take actions to create a just nation, including:
1. USING OUR PLATFORMS and PRIVILEGE
We are committed to using our platforms and privilege to amplify the voices and perspectives of our fellow Black Americans. We will celebrate the leadership of the many organizations, leaders, and artists working to upend racial injustices. Dr. Carolyn Finney was a keynote speaker at our 2017 Friends Grassroots Rendezvous and here is a recent opinion piece she authored:
Opinion published in The Guardian: The perils of being black in public: we are all Christian Cooper and George Floyd by Carolyn Finney, PhD
2. LISTENING and EDUCATING OURSELVES
We're committed to listening and educating ourselves to better understand our privileges and the role we can play to realize justice for Black lives, Indigenous people, and other People of Color. We recognize that our privileges and the health, economic and educational disparities between White and Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color communities are not coincidental, they are intentional and a result of a white dominant culture.
We will continue to check ourselves and share resources about allyship, including this Ally Resource Guide, which is guiding our learning.
We also offer this upcoming event, hosted by Outdoor Retailer:
What Can I Do? A Conversation About Dismantling Systemic Racism
and these books that are part of the CLF Reading List:
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva
3. TAKING ACTION
By advocating for policies that bring equity, justice and improved access to the outdoors so no person has to experience what Christian Cooper did while birding in Central Park.
We are collaborating with partners in communities where we work and those on the frontlines of racial violence to identify how we can best support them - a step that we believe our country as a whole must take to formalize and achieve a process of healing and reconciliation.
We are convening webinars for the 70 community-based members of our Friends Grassroots Network and holding Community Conversations for all of our supporters about how individuals, organizations and funders can meaningfully help dismantle racism in America.
If you’re considering taking action, we encourage you to visit 8CANTWAIT.org, a project by Campaign Zero to decrease police violence in our communities. If you have the financial resources, we invite you to support the fight for racial justice by donating to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
As Americans suffer in this moment from three massive and overlapping crises affecting public health and the disproportionate losses of life from COVID-19 in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities, the toxic damage that racial injustice and environmental recklessness inflict on our communities of color, and the increasingly severe impacts of a changing climate that hit communities and local economies, the Conservation Lands Foundation will continue to listen to and support communities to help drive the changes needed to bring an end to racial violence and racism.