June 8, 2020
The killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Charleena Lyles, and countless others has left the nation reeling as it confronts the continuing brutality of racism in America. We are writing this to stand with the Black community during these painful times.
At Washington Sea Grant (WSG) we are having robust conversations on how to best use our platform and our voice. We acknowledge that as an organization, we have much work to do.
Social justice is inextricably tied to WSG’s values and mission. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted by many of the marine and environmental issues that our organization addresses, including coastal habitat loss, climate change and food insecurity. At the same time, BIPOC communities are underrepresented in most of the organizations that focus on these issues, including our own staff and advisory committee. Activities that we as an organization cherish and promote, from exploring the coast to scientific research, continue to exclude and even endanger the lives of many Black people. When we contribute to the exclusion or endangerment of Black people — either actively or passively — we fail at our mission.
We have worked intentionally to include diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in all areas of our work through an active DEI workgroup, an updated values statement and a 10-year roadmap. We will continue doing the work. Specifically, among the things we plan to do are:
Go deeper in all-staff trainings in topics such as racial equity, transformative justice, dismantling white supremacy, recognizing and changing internalized racism
Include a DEI resource in our monthly newsletters
Add a DEI section to our website
Identify and communicate procedures for reporting incidences of bias, harassment and microaggressions
Continue to update our hiring process and advisory committee development to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive
We know these steps are not enough. And so, we commit to doing more. We commit to continue making DEI-focused work central to our organization, to continue communicating about this work and its importance, and seek feedback on what we could do better.
Right now, as individuals and as an organization we are working to identify how we have participated in the systemic racism toward the Black community, and what our roles are as allies and in elevating Black voices. We encourage you to do the same, and take the next step to dismantle America’s deeply embedded racism. You can find some resources here we think will help to get started.
While these times are difficult, they are exposing intolerable conditions that our society must confront. The courage and tenacity of our communities fighting for justice and safety is inspiring. May this moment be a turning point for real change.
Washington Sea Grant