At Sky Island Alliance we deeply value the cultural diversity that is found in this shared region between the U.S. and Mexico. We work to protect and restore the diversity of life and lands in the Sky Island region – so nature thrives, open space and clean water are available to all, and people are connected to the region and its capacity to enrich our lives. While our work is focused on nature and wildlife, every day we are inspired by the cultural diversity this unique region offers.
Our work in the Sky Islands is often entangled with racial and ethnic inequality. And it’s all I’ve been able to think about these past days after watching in horror and outrage as Christian Cooper was racially profiled by a white woman while birding and George Floyd was brutally killed by police. These incidents are just the latest evidence that profound change is long overdue.
We stand with the Black community and all people of color.
Black Lives Matter.
Our mission demands that we actively resist the racist systems within which we live and work, and that we continue to build an organization that represents the diverse communities we serve. The same culture that puts profit before people and systematically victimizes people of color also wreaks havoc on nature, and we must work to transform it.
The U.S.-Mexico border that runs through the heart of the Sky Islands has become a militarized frontline of the white supremacy culture that precipitates such events, and it’s a daily fixture in our work. Our staff members have been racially profiled and harassed entering the U.S. from Mexico and stopped and intimidated while traveling in Arizona. This racism and xenophobia make it increasingly difficult to conduct cross-border work – to build relationships, share science and information, and collaborate effectively. Mexican partners and students have been denied access to the U.S. to attend scientific conferences and professional meetings, while U.S. agencies refuse to allow their personnel to attend meetings in Mexico.
As a woman with white privilege in a position of authority leading Sky Island Alliance, I am asking myself – how can I contribute to ending systemic racism and the inequality and injustice it perpetuates? And how can we, as an organization and members of our community, take meaningful action?
Going forward, we need to ask ourselves these questions every day.
Sky Island Alliance is committed to being a voice for civility, diversity, and the natural world. We are also committed to listening and learning how we can best support people of color in our work. It is our responsibility. People are a part of nature.
Our cross-border work to build bridges and community with everyone who lives in the Sky Islands will continue, because it is more important than ever.
This is our Alliance, and we need people like you, our supporters and volunteers, to join in dismantling racist, oppressive systems and transforming the way we live on this Earth.
Resources For Learning and Taking Action
Below are organizations working for justice and equity for Black people and people of color, and environmental organizations run by people of color that you can get to know and support.