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Finders & Foreign Lands

Hello friends, I hope you’ve had a stunning weekend!


A few weeks ago I got a few messages about a festival happening that had minimal representation - read literal minimums, and so I posed a question asking if should BIPOC people be holding their own conventions cause it seemed as though there’s one side asking for Ocean spaces to be diverse, representative, inclusive while making it equitable, and a side saying we’ll listen only when we have to, i.e your movement is in the news thus validated also cause we don't want politics/drama, just oceans.


This organization seemingly doing amazing work operates from Bali and yet rarely has Brown people on their feed, a pain point that is consistent across most ocean conservation agencies doing work in Black and Brown lands.

Ocean conservation has often looked like a group of people, coming into a place to tell locals how their ways are destructive and how this is the right way to do things, and often operate above the people not with the people. And then the social... showing lots of their people doing work in those local communities without collaborating, partnering or empowering these communities for this important work to be theirs too.


What is the problem with this? Arriving in an area and doing empowering work in the area is a great thing, but when your work and social fails to recognize locals as an intricate part of the change, we go back to the problem of missionaries.


Narratives.

‘The finders’, ‘barren lands’, and the ‘building of civilisation’.


Not acknowledging the locals continues the narrative of supremacy, white supremacy, that speaks to finding lands where there were no people, and a civilisation was setup, and ‘look how great the explorers and finders are’.


Ocean conservation organizations need to relook their strategy, we can save the oceans while breaking century old narratives and systemic framing of superiority of one over the other,


Organizations need to expand and empower locals who can also teach and be active parts of foreign owned Conservation agencies where Black and Brown bodies are normalised as authority too, as leaders in the collaborative change efforts so that the little Black and Brown bodies looking up at these humans who have travelled to be here and do the good work of saving oceans, that they can believe that, this work can belong them too.


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