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Conservation of… Humans?

Did you know there are actually four types of conservation? Environmental, animal, marine, and human. I didn’t even know humans where a category of conservation! If we look closely, we can see that humans are indeed a diverse species linked together in an interconnected system, and right now, some people are in danger, so procedures need to be put in place to keep them alive.

I know what you’re thinking: “This feels like a stretch here.” I’m supposed to be talking about conservation, and I’m making a leap to connect the current climate of Black Lives Matter. But as I said in my original post, let’s get curious about the world around us and seek to learn, understand, and do better when we can. So when we think of conservation, a word that easily comes to mind is “ecosystem,” and what is an ecosystem but a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Every word of this definition is loaded with proof that the human species is an ecosystem! And it is out of balance, but not all is lost; there is still hope. Let’s delve a little deeper, open ourselves up to this moment, see what it has to teach us, why it matters, and what we can do.

What this moment taught me is that I was in need of a serious wake-up call about systemic racism and facing the ugly truth of looking at my implicit biases. It is a hard truth to face, but acknowledging is the only way to begin to change—and change the system we must. Because here’s what has been built so far: oppressive systems like redlining, which prevents homeownership, displacement via eminent domain, and mass incarceration. These policies and systems disproportionately affect minority communities and they throw our ecosystem out of balance, which not only prevents them from having an opportunity to succeed and thrive, but sets humans on a path to extinction.

Photo by Clay Banks/Courtesy of Unsplash

An ecosystem means we are all connected, so when one part of our beautifully diverse species is under threat, it affects the ability of the entire group to survive. Diversity has countless benefits, from increased creativity and drive, to adaptability, innovation in the workplace, and dispelling negative stereotypes and personal biases in our lives. Diversity is shown to reduce fears, and promote a stronger sense of identity and well-being. It broadens our worldview and provides us with greater awareness, understanding, and acceptance of differing beliefs and customs. It has the potential to enrich our lives and show us the beauty that we humans possess. If we let it.

The amazing thing about ecosystems is that when they are out of balance, they have an amazing ability to come back into equilibrium through a capacity called resilience, and we’re seeing this everywhere. There are protests that have been happening all over the country; they’re happening all over the world—the calls for reform, shifting funding away from violent policing towards community outreach, and fighting to put an end to police brutality. The advocacy that groups like the NAACP and #blacklivesmatter and so many others have been fighting for for decades. Websites like fivethirtyeight.com have polls showing public opinion has grown to 64% approval for the protests, and we’re even up to nearly 40% of republicans believing there is systemic racism in America. This is not enough, but it shows that even closed minds are beginning to change.

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

And there is more that we can do. This means being open and willing to confront our own inherent biases, educating ourselves, having uncomfortable conversations, advocating for the Black community and all marginalized groups, and speaking out when we see injustice. As activist Angela Davis said, it’s not enough to be non-racist, we must be actively anti-racist. Our survival depends on it.

There are so many ways to get involved and learn more on your journey. Here are just a few of them:

Organizations: NAACP, ACLU, ColorOfChange, M4BL

Books: How to be an Anitracist, White Privilege, An Indigenous People’s History of the U.S., Killing Rage Ending Racism

Docs on Netflix: 13th, Disclosure, LA 92, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, Time: The Kalief Browder Story

Header photo: By Chris Henry/Courtesy of Unsplash

Meghan McNichol has been wandering around the country for the last 15 years before deciding to put her house on her back and move into a van, where she’s been finding ways to live minimally, reduce her footprint, and live in harmony with the Earth.

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