Our nation is engaged in a painful – and desperately overdue – conversation and reckoning about racism. We are deeply saddened by the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. Through this pain, it is our hope that lasting change, equity, and justice can emerge. Our organization commits to being part of the solution – to not remain silent and to not hide behind our ignorance or discomfort.
Clean water is a right, not a privilege. Yet, too many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color lack access to water that is safe for swimming, drinking, and fishing. Too many communities of color lack access to the water at all. Instead, they are forced to live with the undue burden of pollution in their homes, in their pipes, and in their parks -- resulting in higher rates of diseases like asthma and cancer. Race, even more than income level, is the greatest determining factor in how close a person will live to a toxic waste facility. People of color are the most impacted by climate change, being disproportionately affected by hurricanes, heat, and flooding. Here in Miami, the sewage treatment plant on Virginia Key is sited next to the historically “Blacks only” beach. In Coconut Grove, “Old Smokey”, a municipal incinerator, spewed toxic ash for decades across the Bahamian enclave of the West Grove, with the waste still buried in sites that are now parks.
At Miami Waterkeeper, we take our mission of swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all seriously. Our mission is impossible to achieve unless our entire community is included in the solutions. We are committed to taking concrete actions to address inequalities within our organization and community. As first steps, we will integrate environmental justice trainings into our existing curricula, work to reduce barriers to entry to our programs, and create strategic partnerships to expand the impact of our work into diverse communities.
We will not always get it right, but we are committed to learning, to listening, and to doing better. Black lives matter.
In service and in solidarity,
Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D.
Kelly Cox, J.D.