Thursday, June 4, 2020
Dear Environmental Studies students,
These are indeed difficult and trying times. We are all experiencing great anxiety associated with living through a global pandemic and a time of massive racial unrest, protest, and police violence. The horrors of the Covid-19 virus have been compounded and multiplied by the virus of white supremacy. The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many other Black people have reminded us that some of this nation's denizens are singled out for punishment and death for no reason other than the color of their skin. These challenges are hitting home for many of us who are ill and/or taking care of loved ones who are ill, immune-compromised or otherwise vulnerable; who are at risk of police violence; and/or who are simply concerned about the health and wellbeing of our families and our communities.
Many of our students are on the frontlines, providing mutual aid to people in need of food and basic services in the absence of a functioning federal government and health care system; protesting in the streets for racial justice in a nation that perpetrates unrestrained violence against many of its citizens simply because of their racial-ethnic heritage; and sending support to communities around the U.S. and the world during this time of great need and deprivation.
We know that some of the very same communities hit hardest by Covid-19 are impacted most heavily by police violence in particular and by institutional racism more broadly. The scourge of environmental racism and climate injustice disproportionately harms communities of color, Indigenous communities, and immigrant communities. Fortunately, empirical research demonstrates quite clearly that those communities that are more protective of human rights and civil rights for marginalized populations are also much more likely to have strong environmental and climate protections. In other words, equity and democracy are good for people and the environment, so let us all guard against tyranny and work toward justice for all people and all beings on this planet.
I want you to know that the Environmental Studies community stands in solidarity with people across the nation and the world who desire to build societies that respect the values of justice, equity, inclusion, peace, sustainability and democracy. All of these values are at risk and being trampled on at this time, so I urge you to support each other, to practice self-care, and to find ways of building and strengthening community wherever you are. If there is one eternal truth I have learned as an environmental studies scholar and as a human being, it is that we are all connected and that we are one family. No exceptions.
Below are some resources and information that I hope you will consult in the days ahead, which are intended to provide you with assistance in learning about this nation's history of racist violence and some guidance for moving forward to building a better world. Many thanks and please reach out to me if you have any concerns.
Chair, Environmental Studies Program