Outdoor organizations, agencies, and retailers who care about the natural world cannot ignore the urgency now facing environmental protection. With the election behind us, the fight that lies ahead is unprecedented. We will have a sitting president who has made it clear that the environment is not on his agenda.
The progress we have made regarding clean air, water, and climate change will soon be tested. Our public lands may be offered to the highest bidders. We must step up our collective efforts and fight harder than ever to guard what we claim as sacred. We need more faces in this battle, faces of color who for the most part have been absent from your advertisements, in your board rooms, and on your staffs. We will all be impacted positively or negatively based on your actions or inaction’s.
While we all inhabit this planet equally, there is a void in your organizations, brands, and agencies. This must change and it must change now. What is at stake if we continue to wait for the “right time” is an attack on the planet that will not be reversible.
Diversity and inclusion must be on your agenda. There must be budget line items for the work and Diversity and inclusion training must be part of your overall staff training. Equal representation in advertising sends a message, that people of color represent the outdoor world and your brand.
You might think that you have the privilege to wait it out, but that privilege is not extended to our planet. As a matter of fact, it suffers from your acts of privilege. The planet cannot wait until it’s financially beneficial to you to act. It needs for you to act now, to try new concepts, take risks, make mistakes, lose public support, celebrate occasional victories, and still be brave enough to do what’s right.
I don’t have all the answers, but what I know without a doubt is that come January 2017, we need to be in the thick of change, just like the man taking office will be. We must be prepared to bring new soldiers into this fight for environmental protection. Those new soldiers (people of color) have been sitting at the door, waiting your acceptance, your invitation to join your boards, organizations, and staffs. Are you prepared to welcome them in or will you continue to fear what those around you will say if you’re among the first to take up the fight?
According to the results of the recent election, there are now 59 million people across this country that I must add to my list of people to convince that the environment is worth fighting for, that diversity and inclusion is worth fighting for. Will you stand with me in this fight, or will you stand with that 59 million and watch our planet die?