September 1, 2020:
On June 1, 2020, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters — our staff, board members, and our sister organization, Michigan LCV Education Fund — issued a clear statement calling for racial justice, accountability and an end to violence.
Today, on September 1, 2020 — only three months later — we feel compelled to issue another statement, again unapologetically condemning the continued violence inflicted upon the Black community by police forces across the United States. The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black father shot seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police officers in front of his three children, is yet another horrifying example of the systematic racism and violence so pervasive in this country. We, as an organization, are appalled and outraged, not only by the continued murders and shootings of unarmed Black men and women, but also by the lack of acknowledgement and recognition of the shared pain of all Black Americans and the refusal to work for change on the part of our most powerful elected officials within the federal government.
In light of the recent and continued police violence against Black Americans, we feel it is important to reiterate our commitment to doing everything we can as an organization to speak out against the racism and hate that have resulted in the shooting of Jacob Blake and the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other People of Color.
It is clear that structural racism permeates every aspect of American culture. As an organization that fights for the protection of our air, land, water and natural resources, and against the ever-growing threat of climate change, we see first-hand how structural racism results in environmental injustices and voter suppression/disenfranchisement, both of which we are deeply committed to tackling.
- Environmental Injustice: Pollution from industrial sources disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and People of Color, many of whom are also low-income. In the words of Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate and Community Revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation, such communities are often considered “sacrifice zones.” Enveloped by high levels of pollution and toxic contamination, Black, Indigenous and People of Color experience high levels of cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes, compromised immune systems and respiratory issues, which create disproportionate susceptibility to things like COVID-19. This has certainly been the experience in Detroit, a city that is almost 80% Black, where more than 1,500 Detroiters have lost their lives during the pandemic.
- Voter Suppression: Just last week, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel alerted Michganders to a robocall using racially-charged stereotypes to deter voting by mail. The claims espoused in this robocall were not only extremely offensive, but vehemently false and dangerously misleading. Michigan LCV condemns the use of this racist rhetoric and these scare tactics in the strongest possible terms. We are committed to working on voter education and mobilization, ensuring every voter in Michigan has the information they need to vote and vote safely, especially now within COVID-19.
While it may seem these are some of the darkest hours we have experienced as Americans, this moment offers us a chance to illuminate the injustice and racism against Black, Indigenous and People of Color and work to elevate voices that have been ignored for centuries. We must do this in many ways, one of which is through the power of our democracy. There is no room for silence or sitting on the sidelines. To do so is to be complicit in the violence that is ravaging this nation. Michigan LCV is committed to being part of the solution. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color everywhere. We demand change.
To support Black, Indigenous and People of Color in right here in Michigan, we direct you to the following organizations:
“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
– James Baldwin