We cannot solve the climate crisis without Environmental Justice.
We stand in support of the global Black Lives Matter movement which highlights the systemic and institutionalized racism that has resulted in the murders of Black people as a result of police brutality and the suppression of economic and social development of Black communities in the United States.
As a group of people who fight for a world in which both nature and humans thrive we know that environmental justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with climate change.
In any crisis the poorest and most vulnerable suffer the greatest impacts. Long-standing racist policies and practices – such as residential segregation, unequal educational opportunities, and limited prospects for economic advancement – have led to increased vulnerability of Black people to climate change impacts and by extension other global crises that may emerge.
We have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stark inequalities in the United States that have led to Black/Hispanic and Native Americans dying at disproportionate rates. Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increase in the COVID-19 death rate. Black people are exposed to 56% more air pollution than they produce, while white people experience about 17% less air pollution than they produce. The global pandemic has only intensified pre-existing environmental racism.
Environmental racism, a term coined by Dr. Benjamin Chavis, refers to the ways in which racial segregation, discriminatory land use policies, and unequal regulatory enforcement disproportionately expose people of color to waste pollution and the effects of the climate crisis.
Until we remedy the environmental injustices rampant in the United States, people of color will continue to suffer at disproportionate rates. If we truly want to become more resilient to environmental disasters, we must focus on the communities who are the most affected. We must also lift up voices of communities who are vulnerable, marginalized, and historically underserved by systems in our society. Only an intersectional environmental movement can ensure lasting change.
with Teaching Tolerance
With Analyzing Environmental Justice, students in grades 6-12 (adaptable for primary) examine how the poor and racial and ethnic minorities are affected by pollution to a greater degree and learn how to use a map to locate environmental injustice. Links to materials and related articles and lessons are provided. No standards.
with Intersectional Environmentalist
Resources to help you better understand how environmentalism can intersect with various cultural identities and topics.