What It Means to Say ‘Environmentalists For Black Lives Matters’

Originally published in June 2020.

With the Black Lives Matter movement being global news the past few weeks, highlighting just how important it is to educate and speak up for the people of colour being unfairly treated. It didn’t sit right for me not to acknowledge the topic on this blog, as I find it so important to carry on spreading information and force change. I personally have been sharing countless resources on my Social Media, signed dozens of petitions, and closely followed the global protests, with this I have seen thousands of others do the same. It is absolutely amazing, and we are, ever so slightly, seeing small changes happen.
Alongside this, I have seen the phrase ‘Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter’ dotted around social media too and it’s something that also resonated with me, as I try to be as environmentally conscious as can be. So, today I wanted to also acknowledge the connection between climate justice and racial justice; with many climate activists amongst others, deeming these two areas to be extremely inter-connected.

Having read into numerous articles over the past few weeks on the topic, it’s clear to see there is a connection between both the climate crisis and racism. They are both societal problems that affect the population, with the climate crisis disproportionately affecting people of colour. An article I read on ‘WBUR’ details how urban neighbourhoods populated by POC “often lack transportation options, tree canopy and open spaces that help to mitigate the hardships climate change cause” with wealthier white people’s lifestyles creating the environmental damages.

Going deeper into the topic, having recently completed a course in Climate Change online by Harvard University, they detailed how populations living nearer the equator (predominately POC), in years to come, with more and more environmental problems arising due to the Climate Crisis, these countries will see rising temperatures, humidity, loss of natural foods and crops. Even down to marine life moving their habitats further towards the axis’ (north/south pole) for cooler waters, meaning loss of natural seafood too. This all meaning, these Environmental issues really go deep into a Race issue when we consider the arising problems certain countries will have to endure thanks to the lifestyles of Western populations (which can be said, are predominately white).
     “It’s impossible to live sustainably without tackling inequality”

Further reading into the topic uncovers problems in areas such as waste too, where I was shocked to read a stat by the Climate Reality Project that ‘between 1930 and 1978 82% of waste in Houston, Texas was dumped in black neighbourhoods’ [6]  The statistics are endless of the subtle discrimination put upon POC from quality of foods in black neighbourhoods to the effects of health.  Meaning, the connections between Environmental Justice and Racial Justice is as connected to each other as anything. 

On the whole, tackling this is as important as ever, with the term ‘knowledge is power’ being as relevant as ever too. Over the past week, we have seen steps in tackling societal racism, with the dismantling of slave trader statues amongst others, but there is a mammoth amount to go in seeking justice. It has never been more important to educate ourselves, write to MPs/Governments, sign petition, Protest (at a social distance with the correct ppe) do all you can to bring these things to the attention of everyone. Change needs to happen. These types of injustices should never have been, with people judging someone by the colour of skin absolutely bonkers to me. Be the change and speak up.

And so to finish, I also wanted to include some books I have read over the past year or so, some by black authors, such as Zawe Ashtons fabulously funny memoir/fiction novel, which is well worth a read. To books which have themes surrounding BLM, from the recent releases of ‘Queenie’ and ‘Such a Fun Age’, who’s protagonists feature women of colour, with incredibly important messages. Finally, Anne Helen Petersen’s ‘Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud’, where she explores famous women and how they are deemed ‘Too- something’. Her opening chapter surrounding Serena Williams, being deemed ‘Too-Strong’ with the author exploring how racism has followed her throughout her whole career. All huge recommendations to further read into the subject and learn more.

Further Reading:
[1] https://twitter.com/franciscarockey/status/1269188021850693633?s=21
[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/climate/black-environmentalists-talk-about-climate-and-anti-racism.html
[3] https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/06/09/the-links-between-racism-and-the-environment-frederick-hewett
[4] https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02062020/george-floyd-racial-justice-police-brutality-environment-climate-activism
[5] https://climaterealityproject.org/blog/quest-environmental-justice-and-politics-place-and-race
[6] Lily of the blog ‘Lily Olivia’ has created an incredibly thorough post packed full of information on BLM. Titled: “Black Lives Matter: How Can I, a White Person Help?” read: here

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