Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a useful day to reflect on how the environmental movement manifests our nation’s civil rights goals. We’ve certainly increased awareness of environmental injustices that disproportionately hurt people of color and women, and serve a wider community with educational programs. But we’ve done so while our own leadership has backslid toward less diversity and inclusion, according to a recently released annual audit by Green 2.0.
Grist further examines the report and the issues it raises.
The assessment relied on voluntary self-reporting, and several notable environmental charities declined to participate. The central thrust, however, is confirmed by our volunteers’ observations. Because of historic racism that excluded African Americans and others from public swimming pools and beaches (and costs associated with maritime recreation) leadership in waterways groups tends to be white, even in a multicultural hub like New York City. HarborLAB itself was founded with a mission of inclusion in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields by a white man who serves as Executive Director, and the majority of our Board is the same. We’re very encouraged that HarborLAB’s rising volunteer leaders include more women and people of color than is typical among on-water programming groups without paid staff.
As HarborLAB explores paths forward toward adding paid professional staff, independently with a larger Board or through affiliation with a higher education institution, we commit to growing our diversity and inclusion. We’ll always seek ways to bring free educational and recreational opportunities to all, especially those who have traditionally been underrepresented in maritime life and environmental science. Thank you for joining us in these efforts, and sharing the joyful fruits of progress.
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