River Network Statement on Central Park Racism

Friday, May 29, 2020 – This week’s events highlight the systemic racism that pervades our society, and its direct impacts on the everyday lives of Black Americans. Black Americans frequently face racism in outdoor spaces, including around and on the rivers and waterways our network works diligently to protect and preserve. River Network believes all people have a right to clean and safe water, and the right to feel safe everywhere.

We are committed to inclusion as one of our core values and to promoting a sense of belonging for all, regardless of race. The recent attack on Christian Cooper while birding in New York City’s Central Park serves as a keen reminder that we must speak up against such injustices and hold ourselves and others accountable for the progress still needed to ensure these spaces are safe for all.

We recognize that our own work on water equity is but one piece of a larger and unjust national puzzle and that inequity in natural resources is one of many faced by Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. We also recognize that those same communities are leading the movement for equity in in the outdoors and beyond, and we are honored to support and learn from the work of groups like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, and so many others who are working to ensure our natural spaces are safe, welcoming, and can be enjoyed by all. We encourage all of our partners – both individuals and organizations – to join us in learning to recognize and to challenge the ways in which racism, inequality, and privilege intersect with our work in conservation. We invite dialogue with others working on these issues to seek guidance and develop collaborations. We also look forward to continuing to share resources that help us all be catalysts and partners in building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive movement for our nation’s waters. The two links below are a start; look for more in the coming weeks and beyond.

Updated June 2, 2020 – Find River Network’s resource page, EDI Resources for Nonprofits, for additional resources. We welcome additional resources for and feedback on this evolving, living resource. Contact us here.