I am writing to you as we in California are experiencing a tragic start to a new fire season, and hurricane season is already in full swing. Also happening now – school has started in many homes, for the most part online, which saddens, stresses and burdens families everywhere. The pandemic is still evolving and presenting myriad challenges and ever-changing conditions that threaten human life/ways of life. We have to add last week’s shooting of Jacob Blake, and the killing of two protesters in Kenosha to the list of those struck down at the hands of white supremacists and law enforcement. There are so many ways that inequity can be seen and felt today. There is so much work to do.
The murder of George Floyd in May resulted in reflection, listening, and conversation at The Campbell Foundation. The killings just this year of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, along with others, are crimes that require us to confront systemic racism and structural inequity in our society, and we intend to keep the conversation and learning going. As the President and a Trustee of The Campbell Foundation, it is my role and obligation not to excuse myself from this conversation. I welcome the growing dialogue and straightforward challenges to me as a person with power and resources. The Campbell Foundation values the safety, well-being and joy of Black Lives. Now we have to find the most authentic way to put those words into practice, so I commit to giving regular updates here on the actions we are taking.
Our Foundation primarily funds work on the environment, where the issues of inequity along a number of different lines, including racial, have shown themselves for a long time, although they’ve not always been seen by philanthropy. Our strategic decision since the Foundation’s inception to promote civic engagement as a direct correlate to environmental health means we will always be fighting for structural changes in our society. It is important we acknowledge that the environmental movement is not, and never has been, exempt from perpetrating systemic oppression. Now it is incumbent on us to avoid paternalistic practices that our field has imbedded in much of its work.
Our organization needs to hasten and strengthen our work on fostering resilient communities and listening deeply to the inherent knowledge that is there. I will examine how Campbell’s own programs have been less inclusive to community-members’ and BIPOC leaders’ opinions and involvement, and I will do all I can to listen to the field, so that I may understand needs and supply resources more directly.
Recognizing our privilege, we are asking how we can work with others to create a more racially just and equitable environmental movement and philanthropic sector. It is our responsibility as direct and indirect beneficiaries of white supremacy to dismantle systems of oppression and their apparatuses. We commit to this work as a lasting and evolving part of our dialogue and evaluation of ourselves. We encourage you to hold us accountable in these endeavors.
Sincerely and in solidarity,
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