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A Message from the President: Anti-Racism and Social Justice at GMRI

Jun 15, 2020

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute recognizes the heartbreak, pain, and anger that Black Americans have suffered this week, over recent weeks, over recent months, and over the history of our nation. We mourn the horrific loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and Rayshard Brooks due to racial violence. We mourn the tragic and disproportionate loss of tens of thousands of Black Americans due to COVID-19. We mourn the loss of countless others, whose names we’ll never learn, due to longstanding, systemic racism in our nation. 

We have become starkly aware that we, as an institution, are behind in clarifying our commitment to understanding and addressing racism in our institution and in our communities.

Prompted by recent events and by leadership from our employees, we have moved deliberately to acknowledge the losses of Black Americans publicly, identify and address racist behavior our employees may encounter in their work, and seek input from our employees on how to address racism and pursue social and environmental justice more effectively as part of our daily scientific, education, and community work.

We have a lot of work to do.

Over the summer and fall, we will develop and implement a plan for regular anti-bias training for our staff, evaluate our recruitment practices to support our goal of increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of our staff and board, review and expand our strategic plan to integrate social and environmental justice into our goals and actions, and look for specific opportunities to address racism and injustice in the course of our work. 

We know that we can do more to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change, support young students of color in their access to and pursuit of scientific careers, ensure equity in our education programs, and engage marginalized communities in our climate adaptation, seafood innovation, and entrepreneurship work. In short, we will have failed our mission to pioneer collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges if our work to address those challenges doesn’t include Black communities, Indigenous communities, and other marginalized communities.

Talk is cheap. We will define our objectives explicitly and measure our effort and progress year-in, year-out. We understand this is challenging work that will require sustained commitment.

We hope that these recent weeks of tragedy will be a watershed moment. We will do our part to make it so.

With deepest sadness and respect,

Donald W. Perkins
President/CEO