Our Journey to Restore the Ocean Requires Confronting Racism and Injustice

Over the past year, as we forged ahead to design and launch a platform to help achieve critical ocean conservation outcomes, two major events led us to pause and carefully reconsider how we approach our work: the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest examples of persistent violence and injustice against Black people—including the killings in the United States of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others.

Like many of you, we have felt sadness, shame, fear, anger, and grief. After pausing in solidarity with the Black community and to reflect on our role as an ocean conservation organization, we now realize we must do much more both to restore the ocean and to support the movement towards a more just, anti-racist, and equitable world where everyone can thrive.

We begin with the affirmation that Black lives matter. We know that systemic racism and injustice hinder people of color, especially Black people, in almost every aspect of life—from physical, psychological, and emotional violence to generational poverty, and including access to the ocean, the outdoors, and the ocean conservation sector. And we affirm that environmental and ocean conservation organizations must not continue to be complicit, and instead, be proactive in helping address these issues.

Only One is committed to a healthy ocean, essential to all life on Earth, including humanity. We want this platform to be a place for everyone to learn about the critical challenges facing the ocean and our entire planet, the resulting disproportionate impact on some people—particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities—and what all of us can do to make a difference. The right and only way to do that is to confront racism and injustice, and elevate the full diversity of voices and communities whose lives and families are most directly connected to the ocean.

We are committed to diverging from the past practices of so many conservation organizations, which established and perpetuated barriers to the inclusion of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. We commit to being intentionally anti-racist and polycultural in our thinking, our storytelling, our staff, and our partners. We commit to listening to and learning across lines of difference so that we can do our part to eliminate the systemic barriers that Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities face in so many organizations and societies, including our own. This will require work. We will do this work.

Keep reading to learn more about our commitments toward diversity, inclusivity, and equity.