Black History Month: Blacks for Green

Blacks for Green

27th - Rober Bullard

 

[su_note note_color=”#40cd11″ radius=”5″]Noteworthy Accomplishments & Historical Facts [su_list icon_color=”#191f17″]
  • Black Leaders stepping up to do their part for the enviornment
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Green and Blacks

So there is this thing called being environmentally conscious, often times when you think of Black people you don’t think of environmentally conscious people. This is probably due to the stigma being green is often associated with (e.g. Tree Hugger, Hippie, etc.). I’m not attempting to offend anyone, I’m just generalizing at this moment, as there are Black people who do care about our environment. I am one of those people, and I am the furthest thing from a tree hugger, or a hippe (no offense to you guys either). 

For the general population of Black people, or by looking at areas which are home to a largely Black population, one can determine their lack of care for the environment based on what they see, rather than what is said. By what they see, I mean the garbage that has been strewn across the streets, neighborhoods, and cities, and the seemingly carelessness that people have about throwing their trash around. 

One can argue that being green isn’t on the front burner among Blacks because of all of the other issues that Black people have to deal with on a daily basis, or being green takes too much effort, no one else seems to care so why should we, or that Black people are lazy. I for one, can dispel these myths. The first two issues can be resolved by simply not littering. A small step like that, allows Black people to do their part for the environment without taking up too much of their time. The third issue, is more about people taking responsibility for themselves, a person should not have to wait for others to do the right thing before they do the right thing, or else nothing would ever get done. Finally, I don’t think Blacks are lazy when it comes to being green, I just think some are misguided, while others are less informed, or waiting for someone else to take that first step. Let’s explore a few of the people who have taken that first step.

Robert Bullard

27th - Rober Bullard 2

Robert Bullard, also known as the “Father of Environmental Justice,” has been a leading campaigner in the fight against environmental racism, as well as the foremost scholar of the problem, and of the Environmental Justice Movement which started in the U.S. in the 1980’s.

[su_box title=”Definition” box_color=”#47bc0e” radius=”5″]Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. Environmental justice is the movement’s response to environmental racism.[/su_box]

His eyes were first opened to environmental discrimination in 1978, when he helped his attorney wife collect data for a lawsuit against a company that had sited a landfill in an African-American Houston community. “We found that every one of the city-owned landfills was located in a predominantly black neighborhood,” he says, “even though blacks made up a quarter of the population. To Bullard, environmental justice is “the notion that everybody has a right to a clean, safe, healthy environment and that no community should become the dumping ground for other people’s waste.” It’s a belief few environmentalists—or Americans in general—would quarrel with, but too few have acted on.

Professor Bullard received his Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University. He is the author of seventeen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity.

Jarid Manos

27th - Jarid Manos

Jarid Manos (a.k.a. the Ghetto Plainsman), is an author, a speaker, volunteer, a Huffington Post contributor, an environmental activist, and the founder and CEO of Great Plains Restoration Council (GPRC). In 2003, he was named the original Board of Directors of the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas. In 2011, he was the recipient of Arcus Foundation literary award, and appointed to the Relevancy Committee by the Obama Administration.

The GPRC is based in Houston, Texas, it works to restore and protect the nation’s shattered prairies and plains through developing youth and young adult leaders in Ecological Health. The organization consists of three main programs; Plains Youth InterAction, Restoration Not Incarceration, and Your Health Outdoors. Jarid’s belief is that the harm we do to the Earth mirrors what we do to each other. He feels that one can be healed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, by connecting with Mother Earth. Jarid’s book, “Ghetto Plainsman discusses his road to redemption, referring to where he came from, the troubles he’s dealt with, and how he is turning his life around though connecting with the natural environment.

“My entire adult life and work has been guided by the realization that the violence we do to the Earth mirrors the violence we do to each other and often accept into ourselves. In training ourselves to become unbreakable, we can have the most exhilarating life by getting healthy and giving back.”

He also founded the Ecological Health movement through the GPRC; this integrates the healing of our young people and humanity with the healing of our land and ecosystems. 

Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN)

27th - MEAN

MEAN is a community environmental organization whose mission is to achieve environmental justice by educating local residents of Mossville, Louisiana about the health and environmental impacts of toxic pollution.  The residents of Mossville are continually exposed to toxic chemical releases from a host of polluting industries so MEAN works to ensure that local residents of this tiny town are not subject to the dirty emissions of their corporate neighbors by compelling federal and state environmental agencies to enforce existing laws and advocating for health services, relocation, and pollution reduction to improve the lives and health of residents.  

“We have tried every way to protect our community using environmental and civil rights laws, but the government has set it up so that we can’t get justice. Because we are fighting for our human rights to live and see our children grow up in a healthy environment, we need a major change in our government that stops the environmental destruction of Mossville and other communities of color. U.S. laws allow environmental racism, but human rights law prohibits this injustice.” – Delma Bennett, Mossville resident

The people of Mossville have been plagued by petro-chemical plants and refineries, which are not only polluting their air, but also their food supply. The pollutants from these refineries are entering the water they drink, shower with, and the food they eat. Since the heavy pollution, some Mossville residents have been struck by respiratory illnesses, while some babies had been born with birth defects. 

“It was devastating to see our friends and neighbors dying—people in their 30s—the government agencies were telling us that it wasn’t the plants killing our people; it was social issues.” – Ms. Felix, MEAN President

One can see that pollution among predominately Black neighborhoods is not the sole doing of Black litter; however, there need to be more leaders in Black communities who are part of the Green Movement to combat these companies and governmental entities which use the neighborhoods of people of color for their dumping grounds. Showing you care for the Earth and your immediate environment shows that you also care about your internal well being. It’s all connected, as Jarid Manos would say.

 

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Sources:

Jarid Manos

Dr. Robert Bullard

Sierra Club

MeanNow