The students, staff, and faculty from the Office of Sustainability at the University of California, Riverside wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement, and denounce police brutality and violence against the Black community, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. We recognize their historical and institutionalized oppression in the U.S. and throughout the world. We also support the Black Faculty and Staff Association’s Call to Action, and the Black Student Union’s demands to support Black students, staff, faculty, and the exploration of alternative campus safety measures.
In our role as the Office of Sustainability, we find it important to bring attention to how Black people suffer as a result of racism, and how racial injustice and sustainability interact. Dr. Robert Bullard defines environmental racism as "racial discrimination in environmental policy making, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the ecology movements." Inclusion and equality are critical in the pursuit of sustainability.
As long as we accept inequality, discrimination and dehumanization, we can never effectively tackle climate change or other problems requiring collective action. The destruction of land requires the dehumanization of those who live in it. The notion that some people deserve lesser living conditions and degraded environments is not only discriminatory, it is counter productive to the pursuit of environmental sustainability.
We understand that no one action or policy will single-handedly dismantle systemic racism, it will take a sustained and thoughtful effort over time. It will require working both on the individual level, confronting our own internal biases, as well as, addressing the way in which those historical biases have been institutionalized. We stand committed to working towards racial justice.
While this is only meant to be a beginning, the Office of Sustainability commits to the following actions as part our effort to support the Black Lives Matters movement and racial justice:
- Host panels and discussions on anti-black racism and it’s intersections with environmental issues
- Highlight Black environmental researchers and activists for their contributions to the field
- Require diversity, equity and inclusion training for all sustainability staff and student staff
- Strengthen our environmental justice working group
- The Office of Sustainability advocates for equality, denounces racism of all forms, and plans on continuing to search for solutions. We strongly welcome suggestions and feedback, knowing there is always room for growth and learning.