Black Live, White House, Rays of Hope

This blog comes from Niaz Dorry, NAMA’s Coordinating Director.

I’m bracing myself for what will come from this writing. Last time I wrote about the connection between racial inequities and fisheries and seafood was back in December 2012. In return, we received the most belligerent responses and the most number of unsubscribes from our newsletter. Clearly, we made some people uncomfortable. Good. For too long, our comfort has come on the backs of many who have been uncomfortable for a long, long time.

Since that writing, we have challenged ourselves to continue to address racial inequities as we do our work. During our strategic planning process this year, our board called for dignity for all people as one of our core values. And, when The Movement For Black Lives issued a policy platform earlier this year, we proudly endorsed it.

Back in 2012, the most consistent comment we heard was “what does race have to do fisheries/seafood?” As our board eloquently stated “Marginalization of any peoples is rooted in a long history of racism, exclusion, and oppression.”

Many fishermen I’ve gotten to know over the past 22 years have told me they feel abused by the system, excluded from the process, and marginalized by fisheries policies. And, despite the multi-billion dollar global seafood trade, those who need it most are going hungry because we have been treating seafood as the food of the privileged. 

Truth is that we started down the slippery slope of choosing who matters when we decided that some people are expendable by decimating indigenous peoples, taking Africans as slaves, and declaring that the color of our skin and ethnicity determines our worth.

When it comes to fisheries issues, neo-liberal policies like Catch Shares have created inequities in the system that have marginalized majority of those who live in coastal communities, have the smallest ecological footprint, and rely on seafood for essential food and income. All the while, these same policies have continued to put fisheries in danger, leading to decline of ecosystems, and putting profit for those with greatest means above all else.

In the face of all this, it’s easy to want to give up. I’m not writing all this to make you feel overwhelmed; just sufficiently-whelmed enough to want to change the status quo.

Change requires a real RevolOcean filled with hope and possibilities. And we are seeing it happen in real life. Just last week, some of our allies working to shift the system were recognized as Champions of Change by the White House. Others are running thriving values-based seafood operations that are prioritizing feeding their communities first. And more are fighting against policies that challenge inequities.

So bring on the emails! We’re ready for them. We’re ready to absorb the heat of the hatred and the warmth of the love, and reflect it all back as rays of hope as we walk down the RevolOceanary Road.