A Word From Dr H: August 22, 2021
Would you be shocked to find out that environmental racism in the United States had started over 40 years ago?
“WARREN COUNTY, N.C. — Ben Chavis was driving on a lonely road through rolling tobacco fields when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the state trooper.
Chavis knew he was a marked man. Protests had erupted over North Carolina’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals in a poor Black farming community in Warren County, and Chavis was a leader of the revolt. The trooper pulled him over.
“What did I do, officer?” Chavis asked that day in 1982. The answer shocked him.
“He told me that I was driving too slow.”
Chavis was arrested and thrown in jail. When the cell door slammed shut, he gripped the metal bars and declared: “This is racism. This is environmental racism.”
The term stuck, and now — nearly 40 years after Chavis spoke the words that have come to define decisions by governments and corporations to place toxic pollution in communities of color — the issue has risen from the fringes of the American conservation movement to the heart of President Biden’s environmental agenda”.
I am impressed that the Washington Post is reminding us of such an important topic, as carbon pollution goes hand in hand with environmental pollution. I discuss it in my YouTube videos on starseed-revolution.com. As we now urgently need to address the inequities in our political system and imbalances in the ecosphere, it is important to remember that climate injustice is racial injustice. Clear and simple. Nothing more, nothing less. This is a quote from my blog on my new climate website starseed-revolution.com under climate change and racial injustice:
“The tides are turning, the global population is waking up, and the climate impacts burdening society are staring communities everywhere directly in the face. In the United States alone, the greatest challenge of these issues is disproportionately borne by low-income communities of color. The extreme weather events such as storms, wildfires, floods, and heat waves have caused health problems and property damage across America.
What’s apparent is that low-income communities often lack funding to rebuild quickly from these disasters to ensure the resilience of future climate catastrophes, and those low-income families with small personal savings resources have no chance when a medical or weather disaster claims their lives and properties. In addition to income challenges, systemic racism plays a significant role in the distribution of harms from climate impacts in the United States. But how?
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CLIMATE AND RACISM
Whenever a disaster strikes, communities of color are often underserved by disaster response teams. African American communities and American Indian reservations lack access to many resources that could help them create more resilience to the detrimental impacts of climate change, more so than white communities. Those living in poverty are more likely than average to be exposed to dangerous particulate pollution, as a result of the disasters that tend to loom in parts of the United States and the world.
Those systems that inflict violence on non-white Americans or U.S. residents by supporting or ignoring radicalized police brutality, education and employment gaps, wealth gaps, and lower life expectancy also support politics governing climate change causes and responses in the United States, making any action to mitigate climate change unbalanced in its application to individuals of different races. By not having a strong federal climate policy, this environmental mitigation and resilience are often governed at the state and local level, with priority actions in higher-income white communities. The poorer residents of color don’t stand a chance when incentives like electric vehicle tax credits, renewable energy contracts, and energy efficient investments that cut costs and emissions over the long haul are inaccessible to them.
As a result, poor residents are unable to meet these high up-front cost barriers, and policies such as fuel taxes intended to dis-incentivize emissions sources often put a heavier burden on poorer people with less disposable income than their richer peers. Lastly, this connection between racial injustice and climate change falls to the wayside of under-representation in elected offices that detract from the equity of policy proposals and regulations, as the voices of those most affected by climate change tend to be suppressed or unheard.”
America is a great country. We have a lot to be grateful for, and it is time for us to look at our shadow and redress the injustices that have been borne by communities of color for a long time. It is time for us to stand up and speak about the atrocities we as an industrialized society have committed, damaging the environment, for the sake of money. Putting finances above everything else, including the lives of others. Higher ethical values and ‘donut economics’ where the entire wellbeing of the planet is considered in economic decisions is not now just a good idea whose time has come. It is crucial to our survival. And allows us to sleep at night.
The sad part about this expose in the W Post for me is the article doesn’t just describe passive racism and communities of color lacking resources to create resilience during climate change. It describes active racism, environmental racism, dumping cancer causing chemicals in a fellow American’s backyard simply because they were of a different color. Would you allow that to happen to your family? Is one man’s soul any less than another in the eyes of our creator? These types of actions are not just morally wrong, they are indefensible in any society that values ethics. If we are to survive into the later parts of the 21st century with any significant quality of life, humanitarian values and caring for one another, with love and compassion, treating each other with respect, will be paramount. While we’re all looking for solutions for climate change in the outer world, perhaps some of the most important changes that need to happen are the inner ones.