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Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards: Statement on Racial Inequity:

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) stands in solidarity with those standing up against the injustice of the status quo, and we commit to doing the ongoing, persistent work necessary to create fundamental change.

As an organization dedicated to stewarding wild public lands and making them accessible for everyone, we believe the outdoors should be safe and welcoming for all. We must address the risks that Black people face in all too many daily activities, including in the outdoors.

The heartbreaking deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others before them, along with recent experiences like those of Christian Cooper in Central Park, highlight the horrific consequences of systemic racism in our society. Real action to counter racism has to happen now.

The SAWS team and I commit to doing the individual, organizational, and cultural work of anti-racism, and specifically anti-Black racism; to listen to and hear the experiences of people of color, understand how we are upholding and contributing to unequal structures and systems, address previous harms, and create equity in all of our spheres of influence.

Our actions will include continuing our training and self-examination; listening to and showing up for Black and other communities of color in our footprint; advocating for antiracist policies; sharing resources, privileges, and power; ensuring an inclusive environment for our staff and board; and identifying ways our work and programs can help create a safe and equitable environment for all visitors to wild public lands.

We will do this work so that we can be an effective actor and partner in working to create equity and inclusion, including in the outdoors.

We also want to recognize and support the many organizations led by people of color who are leaders in this work, including:

  • Greening Youth Foundation: Donate here

  • GirlTrek: Donate here

  • HECHO – Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors: Donate here

  • Latino Outdoors: Donate here

  • MobilizeGreen: Donate here

  • Native Womens Wilderness: Donate here

  • Outdoor Afro: Donate here and read CEO & Founder Rue Mapp’s statement

We welcome feedback as we commit to the work of anti-racism. We must be better, and we must all act now and work together to create fundamental and lasting change.

Meryl Harrell

Executive Director, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards

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