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Environmentalism So White

Japanese Cherry Blossom trees bloom along the National Mall following a rain shower on in Washington, DC.
Japanese Cherry Blossom trees bloom along the National Mall following a rain shower on in Washington, DC.

Our relationship to the environment is tied to where we live and the connection we have to that space.

That’s driven many to fight for clean beaches and plastic-free oceans, to choose to bring reusable bags to grocery stores, or install solar panels on the roofs of their homes.

But others – including many people of color – feel excluded by the mainstream environmental movement, especially because communities of color are often the targets of environmental racism. And federal and state efforts to address the issues those communities face can oftentimes leave those communities behind.

From Dorceta Taylor, a professor of Environmental Justice at Yale:

Homogeneity, 150 years of it, has cost a lot of money. These organizations are not looking the way they look by total randomness. There’s an investment in the board, the staff, the volunteers, the members, to look the way they look. Therefore, to change that is going to require money to hire staff, to hire recruiters, to pay to place your [job] ad. When you’re advertising for new staff, you need to put it in a place where people of different backgrounds can see it. You cannot take the same organization doing the same old thing with no institutional change and expect diversity on the back end. It doesn’t work like that.

Who’s pushing the movement to focus on environmental justice? And who’s being left behind?

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame

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