June 2022: What is Environmental Racism?

It has been such a challenging few weeks and it was hard to know where to put our focus for the June CWC prompt. Environmental racism and environmental justice may not at first glance feel especially pertinent given the incredible amount of gun violence our country has been experiencing lately, but if we take a step back and let the idea of interconnectedness guide our conversations, we may find our way to something meaningful and entirely relevant. Let’s find out. Here are a few general definitions from Greenaction: "Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color." "Environmental Justice is the movement’s response to environmental racism. Environmental Justice refers to those cultural norms and values, rules, regulations, behaviors, policies, and decisions to support sustainability, where all people can hold with confidence that their community and natural environment is safe and productive." We're going to focus the second half of our June gatherings on the first several paragraphs of the article “Justice at the Heart of Climate Activism," which was written by Breanna Draxler for Yes! magazine. Together, we will read up to the section titled, "Intersectionality on the Rise.” We know this is a big topic, so we've come up with some questions to help us focus our thoughts and dig a little deeper:

  1. What has been my relationship to the environmental movement and climate change?

  2. How much do I know about the impact of climate change on communities of color?

  3. What would a future based on interdependence look like?

  4. How has individualism shaped my relationship to climate change?

  5. How do I feel about my relationship to plastic, meat, fossil fuels, and shopping?

  6. How much do I know about environmental racism in my town or city?


“The current situation is not equal; it’s never been equal. Some people are more equal than others in the US – if you are poor, working class or a community of color, you get less protection, you get less enforcement of pollution laws. Environmental justice isn’t just a slang term for these people, it’s real. If a community is located on the wrong side of the tracks, it’s going to get a larger amount of pollution." Robert D. Bullard, often referred to as the father of the modern environmental justice movement.

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