A Movement for Everyone: Centering BIPOC Voices
In response to the racist events of the last few months, Portland Audubon has been in deep reflection about our role in anti-racism. For the July/August issue of the Warbler, we’re centering BIPOC in the environmental movement in an effort to amplify their work and experiences. We are committed to listening, learning, and centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community and beyond. We must continue to fight for justice and equity as we work to build an inclusive, anti-racist environment where we all thrive.
Later on that very same day, George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. He joins a long list of Black people, adults and children, who have been killed as a direct result of over 400 years of systemic racism. From Tony McDade to Breonna Taylor, to Ahmaud Arbery to Trayvon Martin, to Kendra James to Tamir Rice, the list is long and painful. Each day, we add more names to that list. And yet this violence continues, most often with little or no consequence.
These events are connected, and part of a system that perpetuates violence and inequality. Systemic racism permeates every aspect of our lives, from our justice system to health care to the environment.
BIPOC communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change, pollution, and other major environmental hazards, yet the conservation movement is grappling with a racist history of keeping BIPOC voices at arm’s length, often not sharing the table or listening to solutions from the communities that are most impacted.
It is long past time that we all stand up against these injustices, reckon with our past, and start to reimagine systems that have left the health and lives of Black people in their wake. As a white-dominant organization, it is critical that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and work together to actively dismantle systems of oppression that have targeted the Black community for centuries. At Portland Audubon, that means increasing our speed and commitment to educate ourselves and implement internal changes as we pledge to become an actively anti-racist organization.
Portland Audubon commits to:
- Increasing our support—financial and otherwise—for BIPOC partner organizations
- Centering more BIPOC voices as experts in the environmental movement
- Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work and practice for our staff, board, and volunteers, understanding that the community is watching
- Hiring more BIPOC at all levels of the organization
- Reinvesting in creating an anti-racist work culture
- Becoming an inclusive and supportive organization that our community can be proud of.
We recognize the “people” in our mission: “Portland Audubon inspires all people to love and protect birds, wildlife, and the natural environment upon which we depend.” We have worked to build coalitions around conservation efforts that have impacted marginalized communities, and forged partnerships with BIPOC-led community-based organizations to break down historical barriers to the environment for children, youth, and families.
AND we must do more. AND this work cannot be done without all of you.
We know that Portland Audubon still has a long way to go toward addressing our own role in racism as an organization. We will continue working to center the voices and goals of frontline communities most affected by environmental injustices, deepen our relationships with those frontline communities, listen, and further expand our Portland Audubon community while helping lead it through anti-racist environmental justice actions.
The time to create space for BIPOC voices is overdue. Let us make that space now. We hope that the many voices featured in this issue will highlight some of the work of BIPOC folx in the environmental movement and center their contributions to the health and well-being of all wildlife, people, and the environment.
Portland Audubon’s Equity Team