Published: June 5, 2020

Edited between students and faculty as of June 15, 2020

The killing of George Floyd is an act of violence tied to a long, enduring and unjust history of white supremacy and institutionalized racism against Black people in the United States. We reject police brutality experienced daily by Black communities, and condemn systemic and institutional racism in our society, environment, and criminal justice system in the strongest possible terms. U ntil recently we did not publicly acknowledge our role in perpetuating practices and policies that privilege whiteness and racism in academia. Our program and field of study have considerable shortcomings related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice for which we are responsible. We must address these shortcomings and listen to the concerns of the students, faculty, and staff, in particular those of color and from historically marginalized groups.

The ‘environment’ that we study and educate students about is not separate from social, economic, and political structures that perpetuate violence and harm to people of color. In the United States, environmental problems and hazards disproportionately impact Black Americans and other marginalized social groups. This results from racism, unequal representation in environmental and economic decision-making and leadership, and enduring practices and policies that privilege whiteness. Moreover, environmental injustice and environmental racism is compounded by other forms of inequality, including those related to criminal justice, housing, healthcare, disease, and education.

We affirm Black life and condemn racism and racist acts, including structural and institutionalized white supremacy embedded in our systems and our society. We acknowledge and hold space for the pain that Black people in the United States, including members of our own community, are feeling in this moment, for the harms they have long experienced, and the trauma that they continue to endure. We stand in solidarity with those working to address racial injustices and historic oppression of Black communities. We feel that maintaining the status quo is unacceptable. We know this statement should have come at previous times, and not just following the most recent series of killings. Racial justice and protection of the environment must go hand in hand, and we play a role in standing for both.

At this critical moment, we commit to building an inclusive and anti-racist Environmental Studies program. We will educate ourselves to become active anti-racists in our program and on campus. We will analyze and change our policies to ensure we are not perpetuating racism, and we will actively invite, promote, cite and hire Black and other under-represented scholars. As scholars with relative privilege, we will utilize our resources, knowledge, and skills to confront systemic forms of violence and not be silent about injustice, even when engagement is uncomfortable and requires learning, self-reflection, and personal risk and sacrifice. We recognize that universities have the potential to be a transformative force for positive change in society.

We stand with Black communities and communities of color. We stand against police brutality. We vow to do better in our program and uphold our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for all under-represented groups in Environmental Studies and beyond. We call upon all members of our communities to take actions to support racial, environmental, and social justice, and to affirm that Black Lives Matter.

In solidarity,

Environmental Studies