Dear StAND Community,
The recent acts of racial and institutional violence that claimed the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless other African-Americans, have filled us with outrage. We recognize that these murders are not singular events and are directly tied to the historic injustices African-Americans have experienced dating back to our nation’s founding. We also recognize that the time for silence and inaction must come to an end. If we are truly to pay homage to the people whose lives were senselessly lost, we must stand up with the conviction that through collaborative and collective action we can and will uproot the belief that justifies the killing of another person based solely on the color of their skin.
First and foremost, we offer our profound and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the most recent victims of these acts of racialized violence. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in its efforts to end state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism.
We also are acutely aware of how environmental injustice often parallels racial discrimination. Recognizing the need to understand the full impact of these inequities, we vow to increase our efforts to seek, to learn, to listen, and to dialogue with you so that we may incorporate your concerns as we continue our Detroit project devoted to improving neighborhood conditions and expanding public access to green spaces.
The incident in New York’s Central Park involving an African-American birder seeking to protect the sanctity of a birdwatching area from a white woman’s rambunctious dog occurred on the same day that Mr. Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. As the video of the encounter recorded by birder Christian Cooper circulated worldwide, it also served as a stark reminder of the need for each of us to fight for and ensure that the very definition of open green spaces means open to everyone; accessible to all.
StAND researchers, staff, community outreach workers and our community advisory committee are committed to using our personal and professional platforms to amplify the importance of racial and environmental justice; the need for equitable and quality educational opportunities, and other economic and social issues that impact the quality of life, as well as the health and well-being, of all Detroiters. We recognize that the success of our project depends upon our creating a shared vision of the future; a vision that has the power, in partnership with you each of you, to transform and manifest a just and life-affirming society.
We are committed to:
• Challenging “nature white privilege” whereby green spaces (e.g., parks, playgrounds or other public spaces) have historically been located in 'white spaces' and maintained for use by white residents to exclude black bodies. For more information, click here.
• Speaking up when we encounter racism and/or discrimination in our spheres of influence: university classrooms and hiring practices, in local government and with community partners
• Recognizing the agency of participants in our research and continuing to empower them by sharing our findings with them and providing the connections to local resources that our results inspire
In addition, we will, and you may wish to, support the ongoing anti-racism work being organized in Detroit and across the state by many groups, including:
Detroit Justice Center (https://www.detroitjustice.org/)
ACLU of Michigan (https://www.aclumich.org/en/issues/racial-justice)
Detroit Equity Action Lab (https://sites.google.com/view/detroitequity/home)
Caught Up (https://www.caughtup.org/)