We can't continue to talk about environmental issues without talking about environmental justice. You can't talk about sustainability without talking about race.
Sustainable living educator, Jhánneu, broke this complex concept down in a digestible way : Race is the biggest indicator in the U.S. of whether you live near toxic waste. Environmental racism has left Black Americans three times more likely to die from pollution. African Americans are more likely to live near landfills and industrial plants that pollute water and air and erode quality of life. Because of this, more than half of the 9 million people living near hazardous waste sites are people of color, and Black Americans are three time more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants than their white counterparts. People of color in the U.S. are also exposed to a 38% higher level of nitrogen dioxide, on average, than white people. Nitrogen dioxide is pumped out of power plants and exhaust pipes on cars and trucks, and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, and a host of other respiratory problems. And when a power plant emits nitrogen dioxide, it likely also emits sulfur dioxide, another respiratory irritant.
When we think about climate change, we can see that it's mostly the people who have contributed the least to the problem, that will suffer the worst consequences. Indigenous peoples, the Global South and marginalized communities are on the forefront of climate damage.
So what is Intersectional Environmentalism? As explained by Leah Thomas, it is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the Earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities and the Earth to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality.
Here are some articles to further educate yourself and links to organizations you can donate and become a part of the solution :
ACE is an environmental justice nonprofit organization in Massachusetts that works with community organizers locally, statewide and nationally to build platforms and offer resources that address systemic injustice. We work directly within the frontline communities that are most impacted bringing critical solutions that include advocacy, organizing, legal and regulatory campaigns.
They fight for a world that is green for all, not green for some. We work at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution.
They mobilize community power to win victories that change government and corporate policies and practices to protect health and to promote environmental, social and economic justice.
This petition is specific to our home city and demands LA City Council to end industrial oil drilling in the city's low-income communities, often communities of color. Specifically, the petition aims to place a 2,500-foot buffer zone around homes, schools, hospitals, and other sensitive land uses by 2025.