Boston-When Boston socialites Minna Hall and Harriet Hemenway tried to end the bird slaughter in the name of 19th-century high fashion, they chose a logical name for that purpose. Bitter: John James Audubon, a naturalist famous for his stunning watercolor paintings of American birds.
125 years after the Massachusetts Audubon Bird Conservation Society was founded, this organization and the approximately 500 Audubon chapters nationwide that it inspired consider another aspect of Audubon’s life. He was a slave owner and a decisive opponent of abolition.
More than a year after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, the Audubon branch has much more to redeem the past, including diversifying staff and finding ways to welcome more natural space to people of color. I promised to do. It is part of a broader calculation within the broader environmental movement that has faced criticism over the years about the origin of racism and the lack of diversity.
“At this point, if people aren’t part of what they’re trying to protect, that’s a problem,” said Debbie Njai, a resident of Illinois who founded the outdoor group BlackPeopleWhoHike.
Last fall, Massachusetts Audubon published an essay on how the wealth of Audubon’s family came from running a sugar plantation in the Caribbean. It also promises that colored people will make up 25% of the board and hopes to open more wildlife sanctuaries in the colored community.
Based in New York, the National Audubon Association, separate from Massachusetts Audubon, also delves into the heritage of the same name in a series of essays.
And in July last year, the Sierra Club publicly apologized for the racist view of founder John Muir, who publicly dismissed Native Americans as dirty barbarians. The Auckland-based group also promised $ 5 million to support the work of environmental justice and recently expressed support for black compensation.
David O’Neill, president of Massachusetts Audubon, said environmental groups understand that the future of their movement depends on changing their white elitist reputation.
“If we don’t get younger and more diverse, there will be no one to defend nature on behalf of us. That’s not good for everyone,” he said in a recent visit to Boston by the group. Told. The Nature Center is an urban wildlife sanctuary in the majority of black districts that wants to be replicated in other color communities in Massachusetts.
The Green organization appears to be improving staff diversity, but its leadership remains predominantly white, Green, a group in Washington, DC that publishes an annual report on diversity in the environmental sector. Andres Jimenez, head of 2.0, said.
In the latest Green 2.0 report, between 2017 and 2020, the country’s largest green group averaged six people of color to staff, two to senior management, and one to the board. I found that I added it.
“To accelerate and move the ball, we need to see the change from above,” Jimenez said.
Bird protection has brought the country’s latest racial appraisal to the gateway to the environmental movement. And in many ways, it’s where the demand for change is most felt.
For example, there are increasing campaigns to remove bird names in honor of slave owners and white supremacists — bird names.
It all started with a dispute between a black birdwatcher with a dog and a white woman in Central Park, New York. ..
Birdwatching Christian Cooper, at the heart of the controversy, said that organizations like Audubon were to deal with diversity long before the moment of his virus, even if some had mixed consequences. He emphasized that he is taking steps.
Cooper, a member of the board of directors of the New York City Audubon Association, said his branch is trying to attract a wider variety of members through modest events such as birdwatching and carry-on picnics last June.
“The most successful organizations are those trying new things,” Cooper said. “In reality, correcting the centuries-old racial prejudices that appear in the environmental movement is a difficult and unpleasant task.”
At the Audubon Association, racial calculations are boiling in staff anxiety.
Spurring toxic workplace complaints, an external audit concluded in April that there was a “culture of retaliation, fear and hostility against women and people of color” in the organization. Longtime CEO David Yarnold soon resigned.
Tykey James, the organization’s Government Affairs Officer in Washington, is one of the staff promoting the formation of trade unions to address diversity and other workplace issues. He also wants Audubon to speak louder in publicly asserting the purpose of environmental justice.
“The culture we had in this organization wasn’t for color workers, for women, or for non-binary people,” James said.
Audubon Association spokesman Matt Smerser noted a May statement from the group, stating that “bullying and other bad behavior” would no longer be tolerated. The organization also continues to look for a permanent CEO and promises to remain neutral in union activity, he added.
Returning to Massachusetts Audubon, O’Neill states that the organization’s board of directors has added new members, 17% of whom are of color. About 65% of the staff of more than 950 are white.
Scott Edwards, an ornithologist at Harvard University who recently joined the group’s board of directors, said the jury is still considering whether these early stages from the Green Organization are sufficient. He said some people would need to rethink their mission and more pivot to the urban population.
“Organizations need to think creatively about how to connect the color community more with nature,” said Black Edwards. “Show them what their voice is needed and sought after. Make them feel involved in the greater efforts of protection.”
Mamie Parker, who worked for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for decades and was the first black regional director, advises conservation groups to address racial equality as a nature maintenance agenda.
“If you plant trees to restore forests or take care of bald eagles to rebuild your population, these efforts will take years to bear fruit,” said a retired biologist in Dulles, Virginia. It states.
Bird Surveillance, Diversity: Audubon Group Pledges Change | Voice of America
Source link Bird Surveillance, Diversity: Audubon Group Pledges Change | Voice of America