As an organization that serves immigrants, we at MERO think a lot about borders – lines on a map which determine our language, our nationality, our access to opportunity. These lines are all around us, and in our community no border is more obvious or divisive than Highway 101. This interstate highway, built decades ago through the heart of what was once downtown East Palo Alto, divides the affluent and largely white towns of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton, from the poorer, largely black and brown communities of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven. Separate and unequal. Yesterday, Highway 101’s eight lanes of traffic came to a sudden halt as protestors blocked the road, demanding justice for George Floyd and changes to a government that has systematically oppressed African Americans and people of color throughout its history.
The tragic events of recent weeks – from the lack of justice for a murdered black jogger in Georgia, to a white woman calling the police on a black man birding in Central Park, to the complete lack of humanity shown towards George Floyd in Minneapolis – are symptoms of our society’s pervasive inequalities and racism. We cannot count the number of times a MERO student has come to us and recounted horrific experiences of racial violence. We have wept in anger and in sadness, perhaps never more so than when a student shares their experiences as a simple matter-of-fact, as if someone throwing a milkshake at you and telling you to get out of this country were something normal.
At this critical juncture in history, we as allies must step up and hold ourselves and our leaders accountable. How can we support a more inclusive, just, and equitable society? How can we elevate the voices of people who for too long have been downtrodden and treated as less than human? How can we create a society that truly values every one of its members, regardless of the color of their skin or the language they speak? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves, not just today, but tomorrow, and the next day, and every day after that. At MERO we are committed to providing a safe place for our students, to advocating on their behalf, and to building a more just society one interaction at a time. Not only because it is part of our mission, but because it is right. We support and join the protestors in their calls for justice. Black Lives Matter.
Welcome to El Mero Mero, the official blog of Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO). Founded in 2017, MERO is a free, after-school environmental education program for high school English Language Learners that gets students outside doing ecology. El Mero Mero is Spanish for "the best" or "legit", which is exactly the kind of science we do in the MERO program!