June 5, 2020

Condemning Racism: Black Lives Matter

We all have a chance to step off the sidelines, to speak up, to take action and to shine a blinding light on the racism lurking in so many corners of our society. We need to fight together wisely, boldly and unflinchingly, while staying aware that our passion and actions can and will be used against us. But we must not stop. This is the time. It will not be easy. It will often be messy, but it must be done.

–Melody Cooper, The New York Times, May 31, 2020

The Pisces Foundation is outraged at the murder of George Floyd by police and of so many other Black people in the United States through racially-inspired violence.

The Foundation condemns the systemic racism, injustices, and racial inequality that results in this and countless other acts of brutality and terror against Black people in this country—including only in the last few months, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade.

We see, as Bryan Stevenson has noted, a through line between slavery and the white supremacy and institutional racism that poisons our society. Recognizing the pattern for what it is—ingrained, persistent, often weaponized—is an essential part of fashioning what must be an equally systematic, aggressive, and powerful response.

The Foundation is remorseful that it has taken this level of highly visible violence before we addressed these realities directly. Silence in the face of such violence—epitomized by but hardly originating on a street in Minneapolis—inflicts its own form of pain in various ways. We were slow to speak out, and for this we are sorry.

We believe that a basic moral stance and posture demands more of an organization like ours, in part because as a foundation we have privilege and resources. We will strive to be equal to the challenge, listening, learning—and most of all, acting.

Finally, we are sure that neither our Foundation’s vision, of people and nature thriving together, nor our environmental strategies, or anyone else’s, can be realized unless they contribute to building an equitable and just world. We disagree with the notion that this is someone else’s fight, issue, burden.

So, what are we doing?

To start, we are working on updates to our strategies that focus on equity and power building, deepening commitments to clean water for all communities, equitable access to the outdoors, and reducing air pollution that disproportionately impacts communities of color and drives climate change.

We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as a foundation. This year, in addition to reviewing how we work, we are striving to ensure that each member of the team, and all of us together, have a safe space to explore and address racism, conscious and unconscious biases, privilege, and anti-Blackness that impacts our work, relationships, and communities.

We commit to use our voice to speak up for our grantee partners and others who are some of the leaders of the fight to bring greater inclusivity to the fields we support, many of whom are speaking powerfully about racism and injustice—calling it out and working to dismantle it.

We don’t mention any of this to imply that we are done, that this is enough. We know that lists like this above can come off that way, suggesting a tidy resolution when, in fact, the road toward equity and justice stretches out in front of us. Instead, we say simply and directly: Black Lives Matter. We accept the charge eloquently framed by Melody Cooper, who shared the video of her brother being accosted by a white woman while seeking only to watch birds in Central Park: “to take action…shine a blinding light…fight together wisely, boldly and unflinchingly.”


We invite your feedback. We will keep you posted on the evolution of this work through dispatches like this, blogs by our team members, and other connections.