Working Toward Racial Justice

June 11, 2020

We at the Center for Community and Citizen Science are horrified and saddened by the most recent iterations of anti-Blackness and systemic racism in our society, our communities, and our institutions. While the events of recent weeks have laid bare their consequences, these systems have always existed in the United States. The murders of George Floyd, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are only recent examples, among countless others, of Black people suffering under a centuries-old system of white supremacy. We are hopeful for a tipping point in this tragic history and are committed to playing a part in realizing that. We are listening to and inspired by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices, and mindful of what Chancellor of UC Davis Gary May described as the unacknowledged exhaustion Black people feel every day knowing they must be fearful for their lives, and the lives of their family members.

We will take action against racism in the work we do.  

Students, faculty, researchers and educators at the Center are now collectively engaging in identifying, understanding, and planning the actions we can take to make anti-racism central to our research, our programming, and all of our practices as an organization. We invite all who have capacity and interest in transforming the systems we create and uphold to join us. While some of our ongoing work is explicitly oriented toward equity and social justice, we acknowledge the ways we fail to advance equity and justice through the entirety of our work, particularly in the context of academia, which is inextricably linked to historical and ongoing marginalization of BIPOC. We have an obligation to examine our own work, our own everyday actions, and our institutional context, and identify ways that these perpetuate racism. We must examine our various forms of power, and find ways to use them against white supremacy. 

As we have engaged collectively in reflecting on what we as a Center can do to advance anti-racism work in recent weeks, some of us have an intense awareness of all that we should have been doing before the tragic events that sparked the rage, sorrow, and revolution across the world. However imperfect its beginnings, this is a long-term project for us. With gratitude, we are learning from the wisdom of the many many Black and POC scholars and educators who have done this work for years and developed numerous resources we can draw from. We are grateful to colleagues within the Center, and colleagues and organizational partners across the university (“Resources for Racial Trauma” and Educating about white privilege) and beyond (“Taking Responsibility” from the Citizen Science Association) who are taking their own actions, sharing their wisdom and time, and showing solidarity with BIPOC communities. 

Our Commitment Today:

  • By the end of June, we will share on our website a list of specific organizational commitments to advance anti-racism. (Update: you can now read those commitment statements here)
  • Those commitments will be accompanied by an action plan that helps us maintain accountability and evaluate and document our progress.

Community and Citizen Science as a “field” is focused on how people that wouldn’t traditionally qualify as “scientists” are taking up the tools of science to address environmental problems, locally, regionally, and globally. The very premise of this is that traditional power structures in science need to be disrupted to include more voices, more sources of knowledge, more ways of thinking about environmental problems. In this way, we can and should be much more purposeful in how we link anti-racism activities into what we do as a Center. We welcome any resources and suggestions on how we can use our Center to advance anti-racism actions in the many areas that overlap with community science and citizen science, including conservation and natural resource management, STEM education in and out of schools, environmental justice, and community-based research and monitoring, agriculture, and sustainability. We also welcome your skepticism, your hard questions, and your critiques. We recognize that this work is critical, and are committed to a long-term process.

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