Cottonwood Institute Condemns Anti-Black Violence and Harassment
Dear CI Community,
Black Youth Matter. Black Joy Matters. Black Lives Matter.
Our hearts are heavy for our community. We acknowledge that our Black community members cannot move freely in their homes, communities, or the outdoors for fear of their lives and we condemn it. We stand in solidarity with our Black community in this fight for justice, equity, and liberation. We condemn the racist and brutal acts that have taken the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, James Scurlock and countless other members of the Black community. We say their names and we demand justice.
As an organization that directly works with Youth of Color in the outdoors, CI stands in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The fight for racial equity in the outdoors is our responsibility as an organization and we will take action to ensure Youth and Families of Color feel safe, welcomed, represented, heard, and supported in their homes, their communities, and especially in the outdoors. We will take action as an organization to engage in the following critical work:
- Learn/Educate: Work internally with staff, instructors, and Board members to refine, build upon, and implement a strategic Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan for our organization. This includes listening to the needs of our students, engaging in anti-oppression and anti-racist training, and consulting to build our knowledge and capacity to integrate this into our work.
- Advocate: Speak up whenever we encounter overt and/or covert racist behavior or rhetoric as well as expose ideologies that attempt to support or further indoctrinate white supremacy so that CI can engage in constructive conversations with students about racism and the importance of supporting racial equity.
- Partner: Intentionally partner and invest in BIPOC communities to co-create culturally relevant programming.
- Steward: Work to build a pipeline of BIPOC outdoor explorers, leaders, educators, and advocates.
We invite you to stand with us and work to educate yourself, your family, your community, and take actionable steps to fight for justice in solidarity with the Black Community. Some resources that can help you on this journey include:
- Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race resource list
- Carolyn Finney’s Black Faces, White Spaces
- Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist
- Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility
The actions laid out here are a first step for us in a longer term process and commitment towards justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. As an organization, we will continue to invest our time, energy, and resources to educate ourselves, hold ourselves and our field accountable, and center justice and equity for BIPOC communities in our work and everyday lives. We will work to dismantle racism and white supremacy in ourselves and in our community. Only then can we create a world which centers people, quality of life, and liberation above all else.
Black Lives Matter.
The CI Team