The mission of the Florida Museum of Natural History is to inspire people to care for life on Earth. Being true to that mission means we cannot stay silent when we witness Black lives being devalued, degraded and destroyed in our community and across our nation.
We condemn the recent rash of racist incidents, which are painful reminders that prejudice and bigotry are not relegated to the annals of history, but a present-day and sometimes lethal reality for people of color. We echo University of Florida President Kent Fuchs’ call to unite against hate and in support of justice. We also acknowledge the role that scientific institutions, including natural history museums, have played in privileging White lives and cultures over others.
And we know we have a long way to go. Alongside our commitment to protect diversity and preserve cultural heritage, we must increase the representation of minorities in the sciences and amplify their voices. We must equalize access to education and ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, without fear of bodily harm. We must curb the effects of climate change, pollution and other forms of environmental injustice, which disproportionately harm communities of color.
We have work to do. And as an institution that lacks diversity in its staff and audiences, we know we can’t do this alone.
That’s why we’re partnering with the office of UF’s Chief Diversity Officer Antonio Farias to help diversify our institution; we’re offering anti-racism and implicit bias training to our faculty and staff; and we’re collaborating with other Gainesville museums and cultural organizations to expand our services to underrepresented audiences. We recognize these actions are just first steps on a challenging road to dismantling the legacy of systemic racism in our country and communities. We invite you to join us in our commitment to listen and lead with courage, compassion and humility so that life and lives can flourish in our state and on our planet.
Black lives matter.