In Solidarity with Black Communites

Dear Supporter,

You may know that June is Orca Month in the Pacific Northwest and while Puget Soundkeeper and our regional partners are working to build awareness to save wild Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident Orca Whale from extinction, we cannot ignore what’s happening in the streets across the U.S. and the calls to action in defense of all Black life.  This issue is much bigger than just our organization, and we must all do our part in condemning the chronic, anti-Black violence and racial terror by law enforcement for what it is – a product of the systemic racism that is built into every level of our society.

As an organization committed to environmental justice, Puget Soundkeeper stands in solidarity with Black communities demanding an immediate end to the systemic violence against Black people, the policing of Black and Brown communities, and to hold our governments accountable in the killing of Black people and people of color.  The loss of Black lives in the U.S. are a direct result of the same systems of social injustice that are responsible for the alarming death rates of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people during this pandemic; and the disproportionate impacts of toxic pollution and environmental burdens placed on Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color.

The demonstrations happening in Washington state and across the country are a wakeup call for us to end our complacency.  We must do our best to call out white supremacy in all its forms; and to take direction from, support, and center the leadership and organizing efforts of Black communities and organizations most impacted by systemic and institutionalized racism.

For our team at Puget Soundkeeper, this means reflecting on some hard truths about our organizational history.  This includes acknowledging that we are a historically white led organization, and recognizing that in the U.S., the Waterkeeper movement we are a part of is also overwhelmingly white.  Confronting and addressing our collective whiteness as an organization and the role this has played in supporting systems of oppression, especially implicitly, is the kind of deep, introspective work we are requiring of ourselves, especially now.  We need to do more to become effective allies in defense of Black communities and movements led by Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other communities of color.  And we need to do more to create an inclusive environmental movement that is authentic and representative of the communities and waterways we serve.

For those of you who want to know what is most needed right now, the following is a list of groups organizing efforts on the ground:

Black Lives Matter Seattle Freedom Fund Funds donated will go to the immediate release of people protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Manuel Ellis. Any remaining funds will continue to be used for future bailout efforts as an ongoing community bail fund project.

Louisville Community Bail Fund exists to not only bail out those criminalized by the justice system, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety. This fund also maintains a focus on preventative measures for those targeted by law enforcement and threatened with incarceration.

Reclaim the Block is fighting to defund the police in Minneapolis in order to invest in the long term health of local communities through violence prevention, housing, resources for youth, emergency mental health response teams, and solutions to the opioid crisis.

Communities United Against Police Brutality – Twin Cities Their goal is to create a climate of resistance to the abuse of authority by police organizations, and to empower local people with a structure that can take on police brutality and actually bring it to an end. They provide support for survivors of police brutality and families of victims so they can reclaim their dignity and join the struggle to end police brutality.

Campaign Zero supports the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns, and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.

Here, also, are resources on allyship, and self-care tools for Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander and other people of color (BIPOC), and systemically victimized groups in search of support: 

Support resources – 7 Virtual Mental Health Resources Supporting Black People Right Now, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color, The SIWE Project, The Asian Mental Health Project, and Dr. Joy Harden Bradford.  For white allies – Harvard’s implicit bias test, Showing Up For Racial Justice, Green 2.0 Beyond Diversity, White Allyship 101: Resources to Get to Work, 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice, and Black People Need Stronger White Allies — Here’s How You Can Be One

At Puget Soundkeeper, we are striving to ensure that our clean water work is not done in a vacuum because environmental justice cannot exist without racial justice.  Like the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Blackness impairs our ability to respond in ways that not only threaten Black lives, but the laws, institutions, and governments that we entrust to protect us.  As we stand in solidarity with Black communities and those leading the fight to end systemic racism, we hope the U.S. and our leaders take a good long look in the mirror and do some hard self-reflection, too.

In solidarity,

Puget Soundkeeper