|Dear colleagues and friends,|
We are all shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd, and the subsequent attacks on African American communities. In response, we are all aware of the need for urgent action to combat racism and discrimination at the national level, in our workplaces, and in our individual lives. This responsibility applies equally to the Society for Economic Botany. The statement below, written and agreed by the Society’s Council with the assistance of several past presidents, is both an expression of wider solidarity, and an acknowledgement of need for action within the Society. The practical actions we can take communally will be a key topic of discussion at our next Council meeting. I warmly encourage members with thoughts and advice on this to contact me directly; we will also have space to discuss this at our annual business meeting (online, most likely early August
Society for Economic Botany Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
The Society for Economic Botany strongly condemns the ongoing acts of police violence against African Americans. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, with Indigenous communities, and with all People of Color, including their diasporas. The resistance sparked by recent police violence has served as a catalyst for a long overdue call for racial justice. We fully support this call. Racism and discrimination are severely damaging to Black Americans in the United States, and to peoples from the diverse communities worldwide of which we are intimately a part. We owe it to them and to ourselves to be allies in the fight against racism.
The ethnobiological sciences recognize that the planetary environment includes all people. People are not separate from “nature” but have served as integral stewards of landscapes and biota for generations. If we profess to embrace the cultural diversity of botany, we must support our allies who sustain such diverse forms of ethnobotanical knowledge.
We recognize that the discipline of economic botany (and in fact the very terminology) is deeply interwoven with a history of extraction, inequality and cruelty. We must challenge this legacy through a renewed commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity, not only in our communities, but also in our discipline. This includes a continued reflection on how structural racism is embedded in the power of terminology, lineages of knowledge, and hiring practices.
As individuals and as a Society, we must protect and respect the civil liberties of human beings by seeing, learning about, and challenging discrimination. We must not only practice kindness and respect in our teaching, research, and administrative duties, but also strive to recognize unconscious biases and inequalities that influence our interactions and the future of our science. These are essential steps towards advancing our discipline and our communities. It is a commitment that the Society’s Board takes on with new strength.
Signed on behalf of Council
Mark Nesbitt, President
Sunshine Brosi, Past President
Nanci Ross, President Elect
Click here to see this statement online.
Some resources for action and learning:
Information and donation hub: https://blacklivesmatter.carrd.co/
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
Donate to the Black Lives Matter movement: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
Decolonial approaches to natural history collections: https://natsca.org/article/2509
See also the statement and resources from the Society of Ethnobiology: https://ethnobiology.org/news/solidarity-black-society-members-and-black-lives-matter