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We Speak Their Names: Statement of Solidarity for Racial Justice

By Xerces Society DEI Committee on 3. June 2020
Xerces Society DEI Committee

The senseless, violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the many other Black and Brown people of this country are merely the most recent, visible examples of systemic inequality and racial injustice in our country. These deaths and the depth of inequality they represent work against our mission to make the world safer for the diversity of life: both the human and nonhuman communities that make up our one wild and beautiful earth. Conservation organizations, including our own, have an obligation to unequivocally condemn racism in all its forms and to work towards an equitable, livable future for all.

We need real, lasting change to stop acts of racism and violence against the Black community and other communities of color, including threats to people of color who seek to enjoy nature and the outdoors. We commit to engaging in critical self-reflection and active listening and dialogue with marginalized communities to learn how we can be part of the solution.

We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, members, and the broader conservation community in calling for accountability and justice for all.

Our full diversity, equity, and inclusion statement is available here.



Eric Garner, a Black man killed by police in New York in 2014, told officers “I can’t breathe” eleven times while in a chokehold. His death and the protests that followed were the inspiration for “A Small Needful Fact,” a poem by the professor and poet Ross Gay.


A Small Needful Fact

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.


[Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.]
















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