The crisis of violence, injustice, and racism the Black community has experienced must stop. The epidemic of police brutality that disproportionately targets and kills Black people must stop.
Like many organizations, we put out a statement reaffirming our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice because we believe everyone has the right to clean water and a saved Bay where they can live, work, and play safely.
Put simply, Black Lives Matter. And to those who will counter with All lives matter, of course they do. But that is NOT a parallel statement to Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter refutes centuries of practice that implies, to put it mildly, that a lot of people have felt the opposite. Start with slavery and come right up to the present—the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and so many others. We must change!
Black Lives Matter does NOT say white lives don’t matter. It says, Please! Black lives DO matter.
Racism makes saving the Bay harder. It destroys the collective spirit and social fabric that is absolutely essential to implement the scale and scope of efforts necessary to reduce pollution and restore the Bay.
More importantly, racism undermines why we are saving the Bay. Clean water improves the health and wellbeing of our communities. Racism destroys our communities. Clean water means little when its benefits are only reserved for a few.
We know it’s not enough to just have empathy for those who experience racism and live with its legacy every day. In our own organization, we have made commitments to make the changes we want to see. We are taking steps, but we have a long way to go.
Speaking out for justice is a vital part of saving the Bay.
—Will Baker on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation