Statement from President and CEO Kris Sarri addressing racism

Silver Spring, Md. – June 5, 2020 – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation released the following statement from President and CEO Kris Sarri:

“I cannot put into words my feelings over the senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Renisha McBride, Nina Pop, Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, and countless more Black lives. I don’t express my feelings well, especially when I see racism, injustice, and inhumanity. These concepts were ones that my parents taught me had no place in our home or how I treat people.

“Seeing police tear-gas peaceful protesters who are standing up against prejudice and injustice, anger wells up inside of me. The America that I see today is not the one that my family raised me to believe in so fervently. But, it is our country for millions of Americans who experience racism, injustice, and inhumanity every day of their lives. “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”

“The original sin of our founding continues to haunt our nation today. However, as a nation, we can no longer dismiss the experiences of millions of Americans simply because those experiences do not mirror our own. All of us need to listen, understand, and then take concrete actions to ensure a more just society. Platitudes and small gestures are utterly insufficient.

“We have the opportunity to help convene a broad, diverse community engaged in ocean issues to have these hard, uncomfortable conversations through Capitol Hill Ocean Week.  It is a forum to address  issues facing our ocean and Great Lakes, and this is the pressing issue. We will address race, diversity, inclusion, and equity in our work at CHOW 2021, and in the year leading up to it, as a means of making this foundational change in how we work going forward.

“Our national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments belong to all Americans. Our work is to connect people to their ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes through our national marine sanctuaries and monuments. We cannot achieve that mission unless we invite everyone to join us. And not everyone can join us until we have an equitable future for all Americans.

“Climate change, pollution, and lack of access to clean water and a clean environment disproportionately impact communities of color. Racial and economic justice all tie into environmental issues. That is why we must fight racism. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation stands with all the people fighting for change, and we join them. Change starts from within, and that is where we will begin.”

Contact: Chip Weiskotten

Director of Strategic Communications

301.608.3040 x 305