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Interview: Chanté Davis Of One Oysean Is Creating A Wave Of Change For Ocean Conservation

Chanté Davis, activist and founder of ocean conservation group One Oysean talks personal responsibility versus corporate action and more.

What is One Oysean and why did you decide to create it?

I founded One Oysean during the summer of 2020, after becoming inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that were taking place across the world. I felt as though BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), like myself, were being left out of conversations regarding ocean conservation, climate advocacy and environmentalism.

One Oysean is a multifaceted youth campaign geared toward remedying this problem. It has six distinct areas: Enviro, Eats, SEA We Care, Sustainable Swaps, Artivism Tingz and Nature Talks. The topics covered in these areas are wide-ranging, from discussions about veganism in BIPOC communities to features of BIPOC in ocean conservation!

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion relating to personal responsibility for climate action. Organizations, and their leadership, have come under a lot of scrutiny for placing emphasis on an individual’s personal choices – such as avoiding the use of single-use plastics or eliminating meat from their diet – without acknowledging and focusing on corporate responsibility. For example, there are reports that just over 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all global admissions. Where do you stand on this?

When it comes to individual action vs corporate responsibility, I feel as though both are important. Too much emphasis on one or the other is unhealthy. While systemic change provides bigger rewards for more people, individual action is often more feasible for the average person. The way I see it, our goal as a movement should emphasize creating systemic change that is prompted by organized individual action (strikes, marches, boycotts, walk-outs, etc.)

Who are some young BIPOC activists you look up to?

Leah Thomas, Isaias Hernandez, Oluwaseyi Moejoh, and Vanessa Nakate.

What resources would you suggest that young people who are interested in learning more about the effect of climate change on the ocean and coastal communities check out?

The EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool is a great resource. There are also a number of very good resources that are provided by not-for-profits like Common Ground Relief, The Ocean Cleanup, Ocean Heroes Network, OceanWise and Sealegacy.

Finally, how can those reading this support your work?

One Oysean stems from the support of other BIPOC who want to see environmental change. For this reason, we encourage everyone to follow us on Instagram @oneoysean to stay up-to-date on our extensive work. For any young people who are interested in leadership opportunities or would like to get involved, you can join the One Oysean community by filling out this form: Join One Oysean.

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