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There is no Environmental Justice Without Racial Justice

The Office of Sustainability & Environment stands in solidary with the Black community and supports the goals of Black Lives Matter. Our mission is to create policies and programs that decrease racial disparities and propel our city toward a sustainable, equitable, and fossil fuel free future. We cannot achieve this mission without dismantling systemic racism, and specifically anti-Blackness, throughout City government.  

Like climate change, there is no panacea to solve 400 years of oppression against and exploitation of Black people. We are proud of the work we have done as an office since 2015 to advance racial equity through our environmental and sustainability work. While our goal has been to design polices that serve the needs of those who are hardest hit by climate change and environmental pollution, we know we can do more, especially as it pertains to centering the voices and needs of our Black communities. We acknowledge the role city governments have played in perpetuating systemic racism, that we have fallen short of building true racial equity. We commit to using our power and privilege as a City department to dismantle institutional racism and anti-Blackness.

We are City employees, but we are also individuals. We share the outrage and disgust many across our nation are feeling in the wake of murders of Black Americans, and acknowledge the violence specifically perpetrated against Black trans individuals. We cannot and will not remain silent.

To those who are calling for change – We hear you. We stand with you. We believe Black Lives Matter. We know there can be no environmental justice without racial justice. We commit today to develop and share publicly a series of concrete actions OSE will take to break down systemic racism and fight climate change in Seattle. Even though these actions must be guided by an inclusive process that centers Black and Brown voices to achieve greater and more sustained change, we will begin with the following – to be completed within 30 days:

  • Coordinate a fundraising effort to support organizations that are doing critical work in advancing solutions for Black communities, including a voluntary donation effort (financial or in-kind) at OSE and challenging other City departments and external partners to join us
  • Organize a series of days of action or service in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Identify strategies and actions to learn more, center, and dismantle anti-Blackness in OSE’s work

Black liberation is collective liberation, and we’re ready to get to work.