As we come to the end of Black History Month, let us acknowledge those heroes that fight the good fight for our communities, and the Earth as a whole. Environmental issues have caused and continue to cause harm all around the world. However, communities of color are especially vulnerable. Studies show that black communities in Western countries are more likely than white communities to live, work and play near environmental hazards. Professor Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice, wrote, "whether by conscious design or institutional neglect, communities of color in urban ghettos, in rural 'poverty pockets', or on economically impoverished Native-American reservations face some of the worst environmental devastation in the nation."
The environmental heroes below are addressing the inequities of environmental protection in their communities. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Here are 3 environmental heroes trying to achieve this goal.
founder of Green Worker Cooperatives and coordinates its Co-op Academy, the first business accelerator for worker cooperatives in the U.S. Omar has over 16 years of experience in cooperative and green business development. Before that, he was a longtime organizer, challenging environmental racism, classism and sexism. Green Worker Cooperatives is a South-Bronx based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice. (https://www.greenworker.coop/)
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. Recently, Ayana co-created the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. For three years, she taught a seminar on urban ocean conservation as an adjunct professor at New York University. She curates and hosts the Science & Society series at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.