CLEAR unequivocally stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and related efforts to address inequality in how we treat, include, reach out to, think about, understand, support, and listen to the Black community.
While focused on environmental issues within the halls of academia, we have often been naively inattentive to the systemic racism pervading our society. Recent events have shown that we don’t have to look far to find elements of structural racism in the issues that we deal with every day here at CLEAR: land use planning, environmental science and policy, water resource protection and climate change among them.
CLEAR is committing, both as a center and as individuals, to reevaluate our programs and our academic culture to do better. It will be an ongoing, self-reflective process to examine how we can contribute to inclusivity and tolerance in everything we do. There is enormous work ahead of us, but there are also efforts close at hand that have helped to start us on this journey.
UConn Law Professor Sara Bronin’s formation of the Desegregate CT movement has made us think about the racist genesis and divisive impacts of many of our zoning concepts. The article It’s Time for Environmental Studies to Own Up to Erasing Black People by Wanjiku Gatheru, recent UConn graduate and the University’s first Rhodes Scholar, has helped us to see the environmental studies curriculum through the eyes of non-white students. Nylah Burton’s article, People of Color Experience Climate Grief More Deeply Than White People, highlights how climate change’s impact on both individuals and communities will be disproportionately greater on people of color.
We must find ways to incorporate those messages and perspectives into our work with communities. As a Center, we pledge to engage in challenging conversations about race, class, power and privilege and to amplify the voices and stories of those who have been left out of the discussion. We will act with thoughtfulness and intent, and learn from our missteps. We can do better. We must do better.
We welcome your thoughts and suggestions, which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org.