IEC's Statement on Racial Justice

posted on Monday, June 22, 2020 in Council News

The Iowa Environmental Council joins our voices with all those rising up throughout Iowa and across the country to state that Black Lives Matter.   
Working to protect the environment and preserve the only home we have is a mission driven by a belief in justice - justice for all to have access to clean air and water, justice for all children to have a livable future. Our belief in such justice extends, unequivocally, to belief in justice for all people regardless of race.    
We have been reflecting on our core mission these past weeks: to make Iowa a better place to live, work, and explore. During this time, we find ourselves considering whether we are executing that mission in a way that truly includes all Iowans.  
We recognize that systemic racism is deeply embedded in the environmental movement. By failing to address it, we risk a larger failure in our work to protect and preserve the environment. The impacts of air pollution, fossil fuel extraction and energy production, and climate change fall disproportionately on Black and Indigenous people and other people of color. We know that the impacts of the pollutants placed by Iowans into our waterways are delivering a burden downstream, affecting predominantly Black people and other people of color.  
Policies that continue to allow these health hazards and shift the impacts of environmental contamination away from majority white communities to communities with high numbers of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color perpetuates the structures of racism in this country. 
The beauty and benefit of nature should be available to everyone. Another symptom of embedded racism is safe access to nature for Black people and other people of color to enjoy the outdoors. Black people should feel safe and welcome in parks, at beaches, and in all public spaces, but often do not. That must change. Children and adults of all races should be able to experience the joy of a summer day in Iowa.  

We do recognize and name that we, as the Iowa Environmental Council, are complicit in the systems that maintain the reality of racism. The Iowa Environmental Council is committed to first looking within at our own blind spots. We will seek to prioritize efforts to engage those of color in the environmental issues of importance to them. We will ask questions, listen, and invite their voices to the collective call.  

We will examine our staff, board, and member recruitment processes to ensure we are welcoming to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. We will invest in implicit bias and anti-racism training for all IEC staff and Board members and increase our engagement with organizations led by people of color, following their lead in the work ahead to increase our focus on environmental and racial justice. Then, we will re-examine to see what is next.   

This is a first step, but IEC is committed to protection of the environment for all. That means supporting and engaging all Iowans to ensure a healthy, safe place for everyone to call home. We invite your comments, ideas, and concerns as we begin this important journey.