The Green Acton Board of Directors just issued two statements through our social media accounts:
• Twitter: Real sustainability = every person & voice are included & valued. After centuries of racism & exclusion, we agree: #BlackLivesMatter.
• Facebook: Green Acton’s focus is primarily local, but we know that our small community is interdependent with the wider world’s concerns. Long-range sustainability means every person and voice must count. To unpack and heal centuries of systemic racism, and to ensure that everyone is valued and included, we understand the importance of affirming that #BlackLivesMatter.
These posts were the result of discussions at the July and October 2016 Green Acton meetings, at which we talked about the connections among racism, inequalities, environmental damage, and environmental justice. We noted that, although we are a local organization, focused primarily on Acton, we understand that our small community is interdependent with the wider world’s concerns, and that achievement of our broader sustainability goals means that changes will need to happen in the rest of the nation and world, as well as here at home.
Globally: we note that people who live near the equator, in deserts and tropics, are feeling the damaging effects of climate change first, and that these are areas populated largely by brown- and black-skinned people. Without clear empathy and a sense of connection to all sorts of people, white environmental activists in northern climes might not appreciate fully the urgency of stopping climate change.
Nationally: we recognize that much of everyday life in the United States has been distorted by a narrative of white supremacy, which allowed slavery and its persistent and insidious residue — a broad system of racial oppression that has huge impacts on black people’s lives. Silence in the face of oppression permits it to continue; we felt called to make a statement.
Locally: we recognize that Green Acton itself has room to grow as an organization, and that we’d benefit by the addition of people with a wider variety of life experiences, including more people from racial and ethnic minorities.
Broadly: we recognize that progress on environmental — and economic, social, and racial — justice necessitates that we connect across our “silos” of activity and advocacy to speak up and out. At every level, we understand that undoing racism is part of the work of making progress on environmental sustainability that works for all.
Going forward: One way we will continue this work is to look at how our planned actions in the coming years can be more inclusive. Another step we will take is to identify the local groups engaged in this justice work, and pass on their calls to action to our membership. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with all of you.