As we’ve witnessed the events of the past six weeks, it has become clear that we, as an organization, have work to do. This extraordinary moment fills us with hope that justice and equity for people of color are finally within reach. The Northeastern United States is home to a number of communities of color across our varied coastal zone. These communities’ voices are crucial to making sound decisions about how best to utilize ocean resources and adapt to change.
The mission of NERACOOS is, at its core, about providing everyone with access to information; our mission does not discriminate against ocean users or interested members of the public. That means it’s not enough for us—an organization with a currently all-white staff—to make statements against institutionalized racism and in support of racial equity. Rather, we must do more to actualize our words.
Our work begins by taking the following actions:
- Receive diversity, equity, and inclusion training so we can begin to build a culture of inclusivity at NERACOOS
- Develop greater engagement with communities of color in our region to understand how the work of NERACOOS can better include and support them.
- Actively seek opportunities to bring greater diversity to our staff and board of directors
- Commemorate Juneteenth with an organizational day of service
- Recognize Indigenous People’s Day on October 12th
These are only the first steps. Real change will take time, and there is no doubt we will make mistakes along the way. Nevertheless, we pledge to learn from those mistakes, to accept criticism, and listen more than we talk. We will work to educate ourselves about our roles and the work we must do, as we commit to doing our part and leveraging the strengths of our organization to help create a just, safe, and equitable world for all.