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Black Voices In The Environmental Space

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Heavy. That is how my heart feels. Energized. That is how my soul feels. Mobilized. That is how communities are organizing so we can incite the change needed to condemn racism in this country. Land of the free and home of the brave. That is our cloak of pride that we wear as a nation. Can we ever lay claim to being free and brave when it only applies to some and not all Americans? We need to ask ourselves, are we living in the home of the free or the home of the oppressed?

Last night my family attended the Black Lives Matter march in my city. My parents were in town and they went as well.  It was not what I expected. We brought the kids because we want them to grow up understanding white privilege and the struggles that people of other races have to go through in this country. What I didn’t expect were the powerful speeches. Only black people were allowed to speak, because white voices are always heard. It was an open mic forum for black voices to share how they feel living in this country. Some speakers were young, some were older, some were students and some were police officers. Each had something powerfully unique to share with us.

My children were surprised to hear how difficult life is for black Americans. They had no idea. At 45 years old, I really had no idea. I didn’t know the terror they feel when they get in the car to drive somewhere. Or how scared they are just to leave their homes. Will they end up with a knee to the neck for 8 minutes until they die? It’s a real possibility for black Americans. Every black person at the march today was unbelievably grateful to the white people who showed up and the police officers protecting us. How gracious after everything they go through living in the land of the free.

We learned that it isn’t enough to just not be racist and care about racism. White people need to actively promote anti-racism.

 

Some are saying this is the biggest civil rights movement in the history of America. Time will tell. Change is mandatory.

2020 has been a year for all of us to wake the fuck up, get out of our bubble of mindless consumerism, and start to create / demand change.

There were the Australian fires that were that were so ferocious, unforgiving, and deadly. Climate change is real, people.

Then Covid-19 swept through the world like an invisible wildfire, taking out people in its path. Coronavirus showed the world that despite our technological and medical advancements, the human race is very vulnerable and unprepared for pandemics. We all retreated to our homes and streets of cities around the world were empty. The skies began to clear. The animals temporary reclaimed spaces they had been driven out of. Earth was happy for a few months, even if its inhabitants were not.

When we thought things couldn’t get much worse, George Floyd was held down by the knee of a police officer for eight minutes and 46 seconds. He pleaded for his life and his mom, but ultimately he lost his life. People all over the world rose up and said ENOUGH. We are protesting, rioting, looting, and screaming to be heard. Discussion about white privilege came to the forefront of discussion and the clarification of #alllivesmatter versus #blacklivesmatter became profoundly important.

You can see this time in a couple of different ways: the apocalypse is near and we must all run and hide. Boy, 2020 really sucks and I can’t wait until life is back to normal. Or holy shit our world is imbalanced, our priorities are misplaced, earth needs our help, and after all these years we are still struggling with a giant racism problem.

It’s time to get to work, people. George Floyd isn’t the first, second, or hundredth black man to be senselessly killed because of the color of his skin. And if we don’t wake up and start supporting each other, he won’t be the last.

I want to say to the black community, I see you. I see all you beautiful black women sharing their educated voices in the climate change, veganism, and plastic pollution space.

Waste Free Marie

An incredible voice combining climate and racial injustice, her wisdom is like a warm cup of tea on a snowy winter day.

“It’s a privilege to have the emotional energy to do something about the climate crisis. A lot of emotional labor comes with being a person of color. And for us, it’s not only when there’s a public outcry; racial battle fatigue is constant. For most people in my life, I’m the only black person they know well. Can you imagine that burden? I’m probably the only black person they’ll have a conversation with that day or week or month, so I guess it’s up to me to make a good impression. When things like that occupy your mind 24/7, DIYing and composting and plant- based diets don’t. But I do what I can for the planet, and I encourage you to make progress where it feels right. While this may seem unrelated to sustainability, environmental justice is racial justice is social justice. Be an advocate and an ally.”

Mikaela (she/her)

Mikaela is all about sustainability with inclusivity. Her 48K followers love to hear her speak on topics of racism and injustice as well as climate change and sustainable living. She also has her own podcast @theyikespodcast.

“It really unsettles me that something being “ethically made” is a bonus or optional extra. Should it not be the bare minimum that those who make the items that sustain and/or shape us as humans are respected and safe?”

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Founder of Ocean Collectiv, designing solutions for healthy oceans, and Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. She is a marine biologist and writer. Check out her great in the Washington Post: I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet.

 

“How can we expect black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our own streets, in our communities, and even within our homes? How can people of color effectively lead their communities on climate solutions when faced with pervasive and life-shortening racism?”

Isra Hirsi

 

Isra Hirsi calls herself the angry black girl but to me she looks like a brave, beautiful, brilliant black girl. She is co-founder of the US Youth Climate Strike, a student-led movement of youth demanding action to end climate change.

 

I recognize that I’m one of the first black faces you’ll see in climate leadership, which is sad in and of itself. As a person of color who has a lot more privilege than some other black and brown folks, it was easier for me to get involved in climate organizing. I think it’s important to use the voice I have to make sure I lift up other people who are directly being impacted by climate change.”

Vanessa Nakate

 

Vanessa Nakate is a Ugandan climate change activist and founder of 1Million Activist Stories, a collection of stories for climate activists.

 

“The world cannot go back to what it used to be. We need to build systems that are more inclusive for everyone. We need to address the issue of climate change and leaders need to take climate action. We need new investments in renewable energy. We need to build systems that ensure basic needs for everyone . . . now is the time to value lives like never before. We need a complete turnaround.”

Green Girl Leah

 

Leah Thomas calls herself an “intersectional environmentalist” and an eco-communicator, terms I have never heard before but now have crazy love for. She is also founder of The Good Trade, a resource for sustainable fashion and lifestyle content.

 

“I’m so inspired by the kids and teens striking to demand action on climate change and plead with lawmakers to consider their futures. Everyone deserves access to a safe and inhabitable world. The climate crisis is a human issue. There is no room in government for climate deniers.”

Tabitha

Tabitha is a vegan food ambassador and a brand ambassador for Whole Foods Market Plant Based Living. Almost two million followers love hearing her inspiring and joyful videos.

 

“I’d never tell somebody what they need to do,” she insists. “I’d be a hypocrite. Honey, I ate meat for the majority of my life, nad I didn’t stop because I didn’t like how it tasted. I did it to save my life. So I just always encourage people to do what’s best for their health.”

 

Ashley Renne

Ashley Renne is teaching us all how to live a vegan, sustainable lifestyle through her Instagram page. She has been written about in Essence, Forbes, and Sheen Magazine. She even has a timely video on how to repurpose old items into a face mask.

 

“Did you know that the CDC concluded 75% of every emerging infectious disease in people comes from animals? While people are outraged at the consumption of wild animals where this current virus is suspected to have originated, manu forget that past deadly diseases have come from farm animals as well.”

It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the racism in the this country. Let’s educate our children about race and racism so they don’t grow up talking about how they aren’t racist, but never doing anything about the racism that perists all around them. If we lift all Americans up and support one another, think about what a great country this could be. Truly home of the brave, land of the free.

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As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.

Megan

Founder, Ocean Junkies

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