Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

 

June 1, 2020

 

IslandWood’s work is to inspire healthy, sustainable communities and a healthy, sustainable planet. Neither of which can truly happen in a world where racism exists.

 

We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; with the loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others killed as a result of racism; and with all those who are and have long been fighting for justice, equity, and freedom from racism.

 

As a historically white-led environmental education organization, we recognize the legacy of racism, injustice, and anti-Blackness within our field, and understand that we have perpetuated and benefited from racism and white supremacy. It is our responsibility to use our unearned privileges to combat racism and stand with those fighting for justice.

 

We encourage our community to petition for justice, donate if able, and support Black-led organizations working towards racial equity.

 

We will continue the work of becoming an anti-racist organization to better serve our communities, staff, and the planet.

 

#BlackLivesMatter

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2 Comments

  • Yen Baynes, MA UEE 2018 says:

    I am so grateful that I don’t have to hold my breath for the day when Islandwood becomes a real anti-racist organization. If I did, I’d end up like George Floyd.

    As an alumni of Islandwood’s only real, albeit somewhat half baked attempt at undoing racism in their organizational offerings, I was in the third cohort of their Master’s in Urban Environmental Education program. We were Islandwood’s experimental guinea pigs and the only reason the program was survivable for me was because they had the good sense to partner with Antioch University Seattle, a better white-led educational organization that has actually sustained their internal, institutional reckoning in their anti-racist endeavors.

    I speak for myself individually but also in a collectively disappointed spirit to express disdain, indignation and real pain as I see that Islandwood has put out this whitewashed, underwhelming and ridiculously mild whisper of a post about Black Lives Matter. Black students and people of color in all of UEE cohorts (there were four) were continually diminished and ignored when we gave them concrete and actionable feedback during our tenure. Personally, I know at least two of us who called them out for not even mentioning black history in any of their materials in February 2018.

    Like so many well-meaning white people who ultimately end up choosing the racist route because it is expedient, Islandwood has fired, tokenized or in some other way disempowered almost every person of color that has ever worked them and they continue to engage in the same colonizing savior mentality that they have always subtextually espoused. Theirs is the language of a white environmentalist movement that still doesn’t see how extractive behaviors against black bodies is at the very root of our climate crisis. An organization that still refuses to see their own current complicity with excluding black people from environmental, land use and political power. They still refuse to even acknowledge (with anything more than a whisper) the harm they caused us as cohort just three years ago, harm that I am certain they continue to perpetuate ’till this day. Islandwood is fakequity personified. They profited off of our skin tone when they continually featured black kids in their marketing even when black kids make up a minority of who they serve and they’re profiting now off of the trend of saying Black Lives Matter even as they still have not apologized to my cohort for the many racist instances in which we went unheard.

    I am forever grateful that Antioch absorbed our program after Islandwood dropped us as their pet project. I am grateful for the team of black, indigenous and other people of color who formed part of our learning community and who taught us when we were in school DESPITE Islandwood’s bs.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for this, Yen.

      For quite some time, IslandWood’s equity and anti-racism work was championed by a handful of dedicated, but siloed staff members, who were personally committed to the work. It was not operationalized in all of our work. There was not a formal commitment from IslandWood as an organization. The way we were showing up in the world was causing harm, to you, and to others. We acknowledge this and apologize for it.

      Starting in 2019, our efforts to become an anti-racist organization accelerated, with an organizational commitment to prioritizing JEDI as an integral part of our work. Our 2019 JEDI goals, and what we moved forward and didn’t move forward on those goals, and also our 2020 JEDI goals and steps we believe we need to take, are listed in full on our website here. We know we have necessary work to do and we are actively working at it.

      In regards to our marketing, you’re right. Our work was full of tokenism and saviorism. In the last two years, we’ve done considerable work to right that and to accurately represent our programs and the communities we serve.

      Our Education for Community and the Environment graduate program has also seen changes to ensure that the program is grounded in social justice and anti-racism.

      Thank you for holding us accountable. We understand that statements are empty without real change. We know we need to listen, learn, and improve. We are, and will continue to, take action throughout our entire organization, our programs, our administrative operations, and with our staff and board. And we promise to be transparent about the steps we’re taking, the progress we make, but also our shortfalls along the way, with quarterly updates on our website.

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