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Climate activists must be anti-racism activists

meg, June 8, 2020

On Thursday, June 4th 2020 we celebrated our 2020 FACS Sustainability Champions in a virtual awards ceremony. The program was beautiful and a much-needed reminder of the dedicated community leaders working toward sustainability and equity solutions right here in Fairfax County. And yet, our hearts are heavy as we mourn the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and many, many others that continue to lose their lives as a result of systemic racism in our country. FACS stands with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and with all our brothers and sisters fighting injustice.

FACS Board Chair Eric Goplerud’s opening remarks are worth repeating:

“Our work together takes place in the context of the world around us. We had planned this celebration of sustainability champions as a breakfast awards ceremony, to briefly pause to recognize the individuals and organizations that inspire action on the urgent climate crisis. We adjusted the ceremony to this online platform as a new viral pandemic brought us social distancing and economic breakdown. And today, as we join together, protests against racism and police brutality fill the streets of cities across the nation and around the world.

As each crisis layers over the next, the connections between them becomes more and more apparent. Each exposes fundamental structural weaknesses in our society, fault lines that cannot be ignored, that require deep and thorough societal responses. These crises disproportionately injure poor and marginalized communities, but indirectly affect us all.

As begin this afternoon our celebration of people whose actions on climate inspire us, I would like to pause just a moment for a silent prayer for all those affected by racism, violence, illness and heartbreak.

We gather here today as people of action, as people with hope and optimism that we can make a better world. As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn observed: “We rely on each other. Our children are relying on us in order for them to have a future.”

As individuals we adjust our lifestyles to reduce harm to our planet.

As faith communities we act together as models of creation care and earth stewardship.

As citizens, we engage with elected officials to create policies and practices to reverse global environmental catastrophe.

Together, today, we celebrate those in our community who have shown us what greatness can look like in the struggle to protect our planet.”

Over the next week we will share additional highlights and clips from our ceremony. You can watch the livestream from our Facebook page. But today, we reaffirm our commitment to justice and equity. We know that people of color are most impacted by the harmful impacts of our changing climate. We cannot address the climate crisis without simultaneously addressing racism. They go hand in hand. FACS will continue to place our Inclusivity Policy at the center of our work. In the upcoming weeks we will share more details about how we can work together toward #OneFairfax.

Respectfully,

Meg Mall, Executive Director