We are listening.
The killing of George Floyd and protests around the country remind all of us of the long history of racial injustice in our country.
By Carleton Montgomery, Executive DirectorJune 4, 2020
The killing of George Floyd and protests around the country remind all of us of the long history of racial injustice in our country. The team at PPA is listening and thinking about what we can bring as an organization to achieving justice and genuine community among the people of our region. We also believe that fighting – one day, eliminating – racism is essential to the success of PPA’s mission and that of other environmental activists.
One reason PPA exists is to preserve natural areas and resources for the benefit of people. To live that mission means to ensure everyone in our society has ready access to the Pinelands. But we know from experience and statistics that Black and Latinx families enjoy the Pinelands much less than White families. We are learning that that disparity has many causes, among them fear of harassment and violence from law enforcement and other users. That fear feeds a vicious cycle of assumptions, stereotypes and habits.
We also believe that the Pinelands and New Jersey’s other natural places will only survive in the long run if all segments of society know, love and speak out for preserving these treasures. New Jersey’s conservation groups and their supporters are very White, while the society in which we work is increasingly diverse in ethnicity, background and origin. There are wonderful people of color working in the environmental field! But our organizations are not representative of the diversity of our society. This fact restricts our political power, deprives environmental groups of ideas and energies that would help them succeed, and inevitably sends a message that conservation is pretty much a White endeavor.
For now, we are listening and each finding our own personal ways to be involved. But soon PPA needs to move beyond listening and talking to doing. What should PPA be doing that we aren’t doing now, or what do we need to do better? We have some ideas, but need more input from others. If you have views on this, please contact us and let us know your thoughts.
Signed by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance & Pinelands Adventures Staff:
Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director