Black History Month: Racial and Environmental Justice
February 24, 2023
This month, let's celebrate the power of collective black action to fight against the oppressive nature of racial capitalism.
Black History Month is aimed to be a month of reflection. This month is the opportune time to study, reflect and engage about the many contributions Black people have made to this country and to the world. Given the deeply oppressive nature of racial capitalism, much of what we will reflect on focuses our attention on Black resistance and the fight for self-determination. This fight has a connection to environmental justice. In fact, the modern environmental justice movement owes much of its progress to the Civil Rights movement. That time of resistance itself is an extension of centuries of Black collective action in the U.S.
Unfortunately, many view environmental justice as an issue that white people are primarily concerned about. The truth is this widely held notion conflicts with data taken from the Climate Change in the American Mind survey. What researchers found is ”that Hispanics/Latinos (69%) and African Americans (57%) are more likely to be Alarmed or Concerned about global warming than are Whites (49%)”. Despite higher rates of alarm and concern for the environment the representation of Black and Latino staff in Green organizations have been lacking.
Green 2.0 is an organization dedicated to closing inequities that exist in the environmental justice movement. According to their research, the representation of people of color within green organizations has grown. Despite this many feel the perception has yet to shift.
This Black History Month I am reminded that Black people have historically been concerned about environmental justice and that concern remains to the present day. This is mainly because our communities are those on the frontlines of climate catastrophes and environmental degradation. Looking forward, it’s important for environmental organizations, Black leadership, and our movement to work with Black communities. This will require us to lean into Greenpeace’s stated commitment to Justice and Equity.