Statement from the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology 

in Solidarity with Protests for Justice and Equality

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As is true of people throughout our country and indeed throughout the world, we at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (WFVZ) are deeply horrified by the terrible death of George Floyd, and the senseless deaths of many other Black Americans. As a scientific and educational institution, all of us strive to serve and treat people equally, and we are outraged by the continued racism, bigotry, and hateful acts exemplified by these murders. We want to express our feelings, and our hopes for a better future, by stating unequivocally that “Silence Is NOT an Option.” 

In solidarity with protests throughout the country, and as a stand against all forms of hate crimes, the WFVZrecommits to, and vows to strengthen, our actions to create a supportive, nurturing, and inclusive organization for ALL individuals in our community, but especially so for those who are marginalized, targeted, repressed, oppressed, discriminated against, and brutalized. We pledge:

  1. To welcome ALL people and provide a safe space for everyone in our community to learn about science, nature, birds, biodiversity, environmental justice, and the conservation of all ecosystems and forms of life; for everyone to explore scientific career opportunities; and for everyone to express themselves freely.
  1. To continue making diversity a core aspect of WFVZ’s operating principles. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we take our responsibility to have diverse people in and working for our organization extremely seriously.  We embrace diversity as an inherent institutional strength.  We strive to have diverse nationalities, ethnicities, genders, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations represented in our Board, staff, and volunteers. We also endeavor to provide access to our collections and scientific resources to diverse researchers, artists, and historians from all over the country and the world who use our collections for their work. We are committed to supporting ALL diversity.
  1. To ensure that EVERYONE feels welcome in the sciences and in museums, knowing that the participation of marginalized people in these institutions makes these individuals and enterprises  better, stronger, wiser, more empathetic, and more resilient.  One of the WFVZ’s primary missions is to serve and empower the underserved individuals in our surrounding region by reaching out to them directly and letting them know that their voices are needed in the natural sciences. This mission will continue to expand. Also, the birds we strive to conserve are in peril, as are many ecosystems on which they depend.  Marginalized, repressed, oppressed, and brutalized people suffer disproportionately more from environmental degradation, and will be even more negatively affected when the full force of climate change is felt over the next few decades. To achieve environmental justice, marginalized and oppressed people in our community MUST be welcomed and included in conversations about healing these ecosystems. We pledge to more purposefully reach out to these community members for their participation in our restoration and conservation practices, and in the governance of our organization.
  1. To absolutely NOT TOLERATE racist, bigoted, or hateful words or actions at the WFVZ, or in our community at large. As a member of the Ventura County community and that of the larger surrounding region, we pledge to continue speaking out when we see racist and other hateful acts or mistreatment anywhere in our community. We pledge to fight against it with our voices and our organizational power. We pledge to speak truth to power.

In closing, we strongly echo the final paragraph of a statement put forth by the Ben and Jerry’s corporation that stresses that “Silence Is NOT an Option”: 

Unless and until white America is willing to collectively acknowledge its privilege, take responsibility for its past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end. We have to use this moment to accelerate our nation's long journey towards justice and a more perfect union.”  https://www.benjerry.com/about-us/media-center/dismantle-white-supremacy

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