Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sierra Club's New Confederate & Colonizer Monuments Position

Sierra Club's stance, adopted yesterday:

This monument in downtown Tampa was removed
3 years ago by the Hillsborough County Commission,
an action supported by Tampa Bay Sierra Club.
The nationwide uprisings against police brutality and in support of Black lives have drawn attention to the proliferation of monuments and markers to Confederates and those who actively promoted the conquering, displacement, subjugation and enslavement of Indigenous People in many public and outdoor spaces in the United States. They memorialize the genocide, slavery, and hatred that resulted in the marginalization of millions in America since European colonizers arrived on our shores. For more than a century, these monuments have sent a message to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and others with marginalized identities: You are not welcome here. And for too long, we have let them stand. These symbols are constant and threatening reminders of the systemic racism and oppression that have denied marginalized groups the freedom to move and live safely and sustainably. Public spaces — especially our parks, public lands, and schools — are meant to be enjoyed by all, and the glorification of white supremacists through these monuments and markers is demeaning and insulting to those of us who continue to suffer at the hands of brutality, racism and discrimination. As such, the Sierra Club supports the removal of these statues and monuments from all public lands and spaces. We support replacing them with monuments and markers of leaders who dedicated their lives to fighting for freedom and justice for the oppressed.

What You Should About Sierra Club's Position on This Issue:

  • Sierra Club is committed to fighting back against white supremacy and bigotry while fostering a welcoming and inclusive spaces in the outdoors.
  • Everyone should be able to see themselves reflected on our public lands, both in current use and the history represented. 
  • The outdoors are supposed to be for all to enjoy, and public outdoor spaces should be welcoming.
  • These statues are monuments to slavery and genocide, which make public spaces unwelcoming to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and they should be removed.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and others with marginalized identities deserve to feel safe and welcomed everywhere, including in the outdoors, from local green space to national parks.
  • Removing these monuments is an easy and obvious way to make public lands and spaces more welcoming for marginalized communities. 
  • These monuments to white supremacy should be replaced with monuments to people who have dedicated their lives to fight for freedom and justice for the oppressed.
How Was This Position Created? A Note of Thanks from Jackie Ostfeld (she/her), Director, Outdoors for All Campaign; founder & chair of Sierra Club Outdoors Alliance for Kids: Special thanks to Shawnté Salabert (Outdoors for All campaign volunteer lead) and Ian Brickey (Deputy Press Secretary, Outdoors for All campaign) for putting in the lion's share of the work on this. Additional gratitude to so many who helped develop and support the adoption of our stance: Ginny Cramer, Lena Moffitt, Joel Pannell, Rob Vessels, Jayni Rasmussen, Karlie Drutz and many others. Also big thanks to Bruce Hamilton, Michael Bosse, Jesse Simon, Leslie Fields, and Ross Macfarlane for helping to get this over the finish line.

P.S. Exactly what history are we taking down? A helpful survey of the years when all CSA monuments were erected illustrates a correlation with the height of the Klan and acts of white terrorism against black people all across the U.S. (Tulsa 1921, Rosewood 1923, and so many, many more).