False Choices & Poisoned Futures: Examining Environmental Racism

2 years ago

On Earth Day, I had the pleasure to interview Black Millennials 4 Flint's Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President LaTricea D. Adams and Sierra Club's community organizer Justin Onwenu. Together, we defined environmental racism and sacrifice zones; discussed their successful coalition practices and how to they take action for their communities; the realities of receiving funding and amplifying their narratives; and how to cultivate joy in a continuously daunting world. This has been one of the most special, important conversations I've had and I am elated to share it with you.

Key takeaways/ moments:

  1. The environmental justice movement, in my mind, comes out of the Civil Rights Movement… the Sanitation Workers’ Strike, Dr. King… because of the history of industrialization, communities are faced with the false choice of “jobs” or “healthy environment.” - Justin Onwenu

Justin opens the episode discussing the significance of the environmental justice movement and stresses that its recognition means we can’t ignore systemic racism and the forks-in-the-road placed for BIPOC.

  1. Democracy was robbed from the people of Flint -LaTricea D. Adams

The chronic lack of clean water in Flint, Michigan demonstrates how democracy has not served this community. LaTricea names the justice that’s owed to the people of Flint, along with steps to prevent this from happening again.

  1. Flint, rocked the nation. This small city made places across the country look at their infrastructure, look at how our children are exposed to lead in schools. It is literally a movement that has rocked the nation and I think there’s too many people on the outside that’s kinda stealing their thunder. -LaTricea D. Adams.

This goes back to the episode’s theme of choices and creating autonomy without much wiggle room. LaTricea discusses the significance of activists, from Flint who work on the ground there, have control over their narratives and credit for their labor. Their demand and awareness for clean water serves as a model for cities around the nation to shift their infrastructure and meet their community’s needs.

Resources to continue the conversation: www.blackmillennials4flint.org https://browngirlgreen.org/blog/black-faces-green-spaces/ https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/502813-group-targeting-environmental-racism-relaunches-amid-coronavirus https://www.naacp.org/climate-justice-resources/resource-organizations/

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Kristy Drutman