EDITOR’S NOTE: We have shared several businesses and organizations statements acknowledging racial inequality and injustices, and actions they are taking to change the system. This one from the Oregon Shore Conservation Coalition was particular poignant as they included a link to an article written by Pioneer founder LeeAnn Neal in 2008 for The Oregonian during Black History month. Scroll down for the link to the article. Thanks, Phillip and crew, and for the good works you are doing stewarding our coast.
We want to acknowledge this historic time of uprising in demand for racial justice by stating that the staff and board of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition join all concerned Americans in outrage at our nation’s continued systemic racism, and in sorrow over the violent and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people at the hands of the police. Each one of us is committed to speaking up against racism and we urge you to do the same. There is more that we can do, in the Oregon conservation community, to respond to and respect the messages that protesters are sending right now across the nation and the world.
This statement doesn’t replace action. We will continually examine our strategies and practices to understand how we can best incorporate the fundamental need for racial justice in our work. Meanwhile, to suggest a couple of small steps in this direction:
1. We encourage CoastWatch volunteers and Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition members to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive environment for all people you encounter on the shore and elsewhere on the coast, helping to ensure that this feels like a safe and friendly space. Oregon’s beaches belong to everyone, and we can and must each do our part to make sure that Black people know this, and feel included.
2. Oregon has a great deal of racism in its past, and this is connected to the fact that we have so few Black residents and visitors in the coastal region. We encourage you to educate yourselves about why this is, and then work to educate others when you have an opportunity. Here are some resources to start you on this journey:
Newspaper article: An Oregon Coast Black History
https://www.oregonlive.com/northcoast/2008/02/an_oregon_coast_black_history.html (Rest in Peace LeeAnn Neal, the author of this article, who died of cancer in 2016 in Tillamook)
Video: Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History
Radio piece: Oregon’s Black Pioneers