It seems crazy that in twenty-first century UK we still have to say it, but there is absolutely no excuse for the abuse and barriers that our Black communities face every day. Racism is not acceptable. And it is clear that our sector needs to do more to combat its impacts on our employees, volunteers, members, supporters and visitors.
It should be a national scandal that there is not equal access to nature (see for example here and here).
And, it should be obvious that we shall fail to address the ecological and nature crisis unless all communities are taking action.
It is for these reasons that we need more ethnic diversity in nature conservation.
There are many effective and prominent voices calling for change and they are right that conservation organisations must do more.
We know that the RSPB must continue to get better at being relevant to and reflective of all communities. It’s why we are supporting the BirdLife International campaign for everyone to have the right to a healthy environment and its why we are calling for government action to make this happen across the UK.
We’ve made a start but we have a long way to go. Since 2015 we have been pro-actively working to ensure equality and diversity in our workforce. The progress we have made is summarised here. But there is much more to do. And we intend to do it.
In a powerful statement to his staff after the atrocities in the US in recent days, Audubon Society’s CEO David Yarnold cited How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi who wrote, “Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity, or equity between racial groups.” People and institutions, Kendi argues, cannot be neutral.
So, it’s a necessity for all institutions, including the RSPB, to be actively antiracist and for our deeds to match our words. We have so much more to do, we have lots to learn and we do plan to work with others. But first, we need to acknowledge other people’s own experiences. And to affect change, we too have to change.
It’s the only way we can achieve our ultimate aim of living in harmony with nature and ourselves.
Young girl bug hunting alongside RSPB volunteer, RSPB Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve, West Midlands (image courtesy of Andy Purcell, rspb-images.com)
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