This week, we were reminded of the urgency of our commitment to racial justice. As black communities across the nation — partners, colleagues, employees, friends, and family — continue to face threats to their lives and safety from the very system that’s supposed to protect them, it’s clear that there can be no climate justice without racial justice. Our movements are inextricably linked.
Police brutality and systemic racism in all its forms may not look like rising seas, lethal heatwaves, and other climate impacts, but at their heart, they both deny the most basic freedoms that so many of us take for granted. The freedom to simply exist. The dignity to choose life on our own terms. The ability to breathe.
In fact, no conversation about air pollution or climate change is truly complete without considering how it affects families with lower incomes and communities of color first and worst.
Why? Here are just a few hard facts:
- People of color in the US breathe 38 percent more nitrogen oxide on average than their white counterparts.
- In 46 states, they also live with more environmental air pollution.
- More than 68 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, exposing them to all kinds of air pollution – compared with 56 percent of whites.
It’s unsurprising then that low-income communities are also plagued by particularly high rates of asthma and heart disease. Meanwhile, more affluent and white communities are generally spared from the burden of fossil fuel pollution.
What’s clear is we must continue to listen to the communities and families hit first and worst by the climate crisis and center their voices in all of our work.
On June 20, we’ll join the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. We’ll join countless others across the nation to stand against the evils of systemic racism, poverty and inequality, militarism and the war economy, and ecological and climate devastation.
During the event, we’ll be listening, learning, sharing, and building power. This is our fight together. We hope you will join us.
Before You Go
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