This is a living document of our ever-evolving work toward a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization and world. We want to be held accountable to our commitments, and we invite feedback from our community through our contact form.
The ongoing injustices against Black lives, Brown lives, and Indigenous lives have brought about widespread questioning of the structures and narratives on which our* society is built. The far-reaching roots of White supremacy are exposed, growing out of a system that does not value or care for the lives of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color. If “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” it will only do so because we recognize and actively work to heal the ancestral and ongoing wounds that we inherit and carry—oppressed and oppressor—in our own bodies and the social bodies of which we find ourselves a part.
The Center for Humans and Nature seeks to dismantle cultural structures built on racism, White supremacy, and the exploitation of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color. Within the tangle of racism, inequality, violence, environmental degradation, toxic individualism, and unethical economics, we celebrate and affirm life-sustaining processes and relationships. We face the responsibility to dismantle oppression within our organizational structure, and within the Center’s publishing and media work, and we embrace the work of re-envisioning a more just framework.
Our mission is to create a resilient future for the whole community of life, and the concepts of interdependence and interconnectedness of humans and nature are central to the Center’s values. In order to genuinely embody those values, the Center must critically examine the structures that serve to further the stories and practices that perpetuate colonialism, White supremacy, and other paradigms of domination. Working toward equity and justice requires organizations like ours, with privilege gained through historic and contemporary power imbalances, to listen deeply and defer to the leadership of those most impacted by these injustices.
When cultural structures are built on the marginalization and oppression of entire communities, it is no surprise that nonprofit organizations like ours—rooted in the privilege of philanthropy—are imbued with evidence of this history. To this end, our work dismantling White supremacy must begin with our staff, our board, and our internal policies and practices. As a board and staff, we are challenging our own thinking through work with the Avarna Group to bring the lens of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to all that we do. Chicago-based staff have participated in anti-racism trainings with the Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) as well as worked with Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy book. This ongoing education is essential, and we highly recommend each of these anti-racism resources to our readers, followers, and fellow organizations. We are committed to learning about and confronting how we at the Center for Humans and Nature are complicit in White supremacy—individually and organizationally.
The Center will use its power, privilege, and platform to channel our energies to better support Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color—queer, transgender, women, elder, poor, disabled, and more—who are calling out for justice. As the Center is a curator of knowledge and stories of human-nature connections, it is incumbent upon us to learn from and share a diversity of stories about the myriad ways humans connect to, care for, and are in relation with each other and the more-than-human world. The Center for Humans and Nature commits to lifting up the stories of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color—narratives of environmental, social, climate, food, health, and economic inequities, as well as stories of resilience, reclamation, and joy. These are the voices that belong at the center of cultural change.
The Center for Humans and Nature is committed to real and meaningful actions to uproot White supremacy, structural racism, and injustice within our own organization and within our community of peers. We will amplify the voices of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color, and we will actively and intentionally engage in conversation with our White colleagues and peer institutions about the work that White people need to do. This is on us. It is our responsibility to do more. We will do more.
*When we speak in the collective possessive (our/my), we are referring to the place from where the Center staff is writing—the United States Midwest, which has a long history of settler colonialism and anti-Blackness.
*This document was first drafted by Center for Humans and Nature staff in the fall of 2020.