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Black lives matter always

Black History Month: Justice in Climate Action

24 February 2021, 23:31 GMT 3 min read

Alexia Melendez Martineau

Happy Black History Month!  

Throughout February, the country has reflected on the history of Black lives in the US and many have celebrated the brilliance, resilience, and joy of the Black community. This month has felt different from past years as it has been framed by a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests that sparked conversations around the world.  

We reached out to a couple of our partners to amplify their take on the intersection between the climate crisis and racial justice.

“I see her with a little bit more pigmentation than others. I see her subjected to the same systems that work disproportionately against people who look like her. People who aren’t able to run away from the destruction of their environments. People who are forced to contend with the issues that those who continuously forsake our planet ignore. People who are the first to be hit by a disaster but the last to be saved.”

Otaniyuwa Ehue, Poet, Climate Speaks

As it relates to the climate crisis, our friend Chuck Nice, Founder of Shhh, It’s Real, says, “One inequity that doesn’t receive proper attention is climate injustice or environmental racism.” Racism saturates every system in the US and climate and environmental structures are no exception.  

Chuck Nice, Founder of Shhh, It's Real and host of PodZero

Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of climate hazards on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and marginalized communities. These hazards include, but are certainly not limited to, the location of toxic waste facilitates, garbage dumps, and other sources of environmental pollutions and foul odors that lower the quality of life.  

Looking for food for thought? Check out this powerful spoken word piece by Climate Speaks poet, Otaniyuwa Ehue which offers a creative lens to understand the emotional, societal and health impact of the climate crisis on BIPOC and marginalized communities.  

"Karali' by Otaniyuwa Ehue, Poet, Climate Speaks

So as Chuck says, “Happy Black History Month....which should be all year. Every month. Because it’s American history.”  

Resources for Learning and Action – The following organizations are leading justice-based work around the climate crisis, explore their resources to learn more.  

  • Intersectional Environmentalist - “Intersectional Environmentalism is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality.” 
  • Hip Hop Caucus - “Our mission is to use the power of our cultural expression to empower communities who are first and worst impacted by injustice. Our vision is racial justice, healthy communities, and a healthy planet.” 
  • Outdoor Afro - “Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.” 
  • WE ACT - “WE ACT’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.” 
  • Earthjustice - “Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.” 

Header image credit to @Ohioma