The largest environmental organizations in the US, including WEC, have historically been, and largely continue to be, led and funded by white environmentalists. White-led organizations advocated for issues in white communities, where environmental benefits were felt by and centered on them. The environmental movement has and often continues to perpetuate ideas of white dominant culture and institutional racism, leading to a mainstream movement that has sought to preserve the natural world exclusively with white communities in mind. But that does not need to be our future. Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities have always cared about and celebrated our environment. But these same communities also bear the largest burden of toxic pollution and environmental degradation.
If the mainstream environmental movement does not actively work to dismantle white supremacy, we will continue to uphold the racist systems in which we work.
We know it is critical to incorporate environmental justice, racial justice, and equity into our organization. Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters staff has developed an internal Racial Equity Action Plan with the following four pillars. We spend regular time in four different Racial Equity teams to prioritize our goals.
To become an anti-racist organization, we strive to identify how white supremacy shows up in our work and office culture and to disrupt whiteness as the norm. With racial caucusing, among other strategies, we seek to create a workplace where white staff consistently engage in anti-racist dialogue and work, where BIPOC staff fully share power and shape organizational decisions, and where all staff participate daily in creating a just and inclusive community.
We work to educate our membership about the role of white supremacy in the environmental movement and build racial justice into the everyday way we talk about our work. We strive to dismantle systemic barriers to our programmatic activities through our communications, fundraising, and outreach efforts to engage a more racially diverse audience.
To pursue racial justice, we strive to transform how and with whom we work in coalition, forming strong partnerships with communities of color and tribes that are rooted in trust and collaboration. We work to use our privilege and power in predominantly white coalitions and partnerships to advance racial equity and justice – while using our leadership role in the community of historically white-led environmental organizations to support anti-racist learning and growth.
By increasing transparency, improving objectivity, and equitably distributing resources, we work to challenge and dismantle systems of white supremacy in our Human Resources systems.