For those of us who call America home, our continued inability to address systemic racism is cause for equal parts anger and despair. And it is impossible not to feel especially heartbroken by the fact that the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have all happened while a pandemic disproportionately decimates communities of color.
The legacy of slavery and racism manifests itself in the horrific behavior that makes headlines and also in the subtle, small prejudices that inevitably permit these behaviors to happen.
The conservation community is not exempt from this legacy. Too often we have turned a blind eye to this racism. In the process, we have, perhaps inadvertently, promoted harmful assumptions about who nature belongs to and who gets to enjoy it or benefit from it.
Every conservation organization has an obligation to actively reject these assumptions. No one should have to justify their right to belong. And when it comes to nature, we all belong.
Conservation International’s mission is to safeguard nature for the well-being of humanity – a mission that is impossible to truly achieve in the shadows of deep-seated prejudice and injustice. We stand with peaceful protestors calling for accountability and justice for all.
Dr. M. Sanjayan is the CEO for Conservation International.
Cover image: Sunrise on a turtle nesting beach in Sulawesi, Indonesia (© Robin Moore/iLCP)