Many of us, particularly white males like me, struggle to find ways to talk about racism and injustice, to share our feelings, and to turn our concerns to tangible and positive actions. I care about the effects of continuing injustice on my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and staff members, and even absolute strangers. Today, I am angry, appalled, sad, and wanting for social change that wipes the scourge of racism and intolerance from our lives.
The innumerable, needless, tragic deaths like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade have triggered an international human rights movement against systemic racism and violence towards people of color. For too long, we have been witness to a history of disparity and suppression of underrepresented and disadvantaged people in our local, national, and global communities. The accompanying hatred and intolerance have grown into an expansive cancer branching out in so many forms to include xenophobia, religious persecution, bigotry, misogyny, chauvinism, just to name a few.
We need to embrace this moment of massive awareness as our window of opportunity to take genuine action and to work harder to advance human rights and equality for all. As the executive director of Stroud Water Research Center, I commit to being part of a new trajectory for change and progress as follows:
- I pledge to lead the Stroud Center towards being a more thoughtful and supportive place with regard to improving our diversity internally, ensuring inclusivity in our projects/programs/activities, and demanding equity and inclusion for ALL races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures at our organization.
- I pledge to work harder to advance and cultivate all Stroud Center policies to build diversity and to ensure that our employees, patrons, and future employees experience equity, inclusion, and justice in all aspects related to our work.
- I pledge that the Stroud Center will become more thoughtful, strategic, and intentional about promoting opportunities to the broader spectrum of individuals, particularly to those who are underrepresented in our community and region.
- I pledge to address the impact that environmental injustice has on the degradation of our environment (be it water, air, or land). I recognize that high proportions of African American, Latino, and Native American communities are negatively affected. It is more critical than ever before to demonstrate the connection between environmental burdens and adverse health impacts — to show the disproportionate effects of pollution rather than just the disproportionate distribution of pollution sources.
We must focus our efforts on building our nation into a source of justice for all, a nation that is equitable, inclusive, and environmentally responsible and healthy. We must always keep in mind that we all live downstream; just as the health of our waters are vital to all, the health of our culture is vital to all. We must direct our attention to what is good and loving and hopeful in the world.
In solidarity and peace,
Dave Arscott, Executive Director, President, and Research Scientist
Stroud Water Research Center