Our communities are demanding change. The people of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where our Species360 headquarters and much of our team are located, are expressing their extreme frustration with the ongoing and pervasive lack of social justice and social equity that impacts them, their families, and friends. The deaths of George Floyd on Memorial Day and the death of Philandro Castile on July 6th, 2016 are perhaps our two most public examples of this lack of justice, from which the people throughout our community are still in pain – but these are far from isolated incidents. And the Twin Cities are not alone. People around the world are protesting and expressing their own frustration today, as they have in the past.
For too long, climate change and environmental activists have been silent on racial injustice. As educators, as scientists, as advocates for the health and well-being of our planet, we must take action to ensure all people have equal access to a healthy and balanced life. It is only as a whole community, working together, that we can bring change. We stand together with the Black, LGBT, indigenous, and other disenfranchised communities. We need to listen, to follow their lead, and to provide ongoing and proactive support. We need to elect people of color, indigenous, LGBT, and female leaders that understand, firsthand, these pervasive and devastating problems and are dedicated to fixing them.
Having lived in Minnesota most of my life, I know that the New York Times article this week describing “The Minnesota Paradox” is true: White privilege is perpetuated by naiveté. It need not be so. I am encouraged to see individuals continuing to take action. I am encouraged to see communities using their right to protest peacefully around the world. I am encouraged to hear key leaders at some of our most powerful companies standing up for what is right, including Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck and Co. I am encouraged because each of us has the ability, and obligation, to be a part of the solution, to influence change.
We know that everything we do, including lack of action, impacts the outcome of these protests. We seek to participate in bringing equality to all humanity. Much of our team resides in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Some of us are participating in peaceful protests, in volunteer efforts to clean up damaged streets and businesses, and in outreach of friendship and support to encourage and sooth those around us. None of these actions are risk-free and I commend all of them for their actions and their bravery. We will continue to look for opportunities to help as individuals and as a team.
We welcome these protests. Our society must change. We believe our society, the fabric of our communities, our policing, will change. We hope the change that begins here will help to bring greater equality for people in other regions of our nation and our world.
I trust the coming weeks will be historic and will lead to real and impactful social and political action. Change is long overdue.
Jim Guenter, CEO, Species360