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Commentary: Environmental Justice IS Social Justice by Nakisa Glover

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

When we came up with the theme Environmental Justice Is, I never thought that we would be kicking off our campaign in quarantine. COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic caused by its existence is literally and figuratively the perfect storm for the worst disaster in our lifetime. As news out lets announce the bleak outlook for Black communities, one must ask why? This is not simply a matter of the need for Black people to wake up, as the recent CNN headline, “

would suggest. The world and people comfortable in their privilege are truly in need of the wake up call to the deeply rooted direct connection of environmental justice and social injustices. And, disparities in these areas have led to disproportionate risk and exposure to COVID-19, lead, pipelines, CAFOs, fracking and deforestation.

The same system that allowed for the harm being caused by COVID-19 is the same system that has been causing harm with climate injustices, widening gaps in education, digital literacy, economic mobility, the effects of the prison industrial complex, and food insecurity.

It’s all connected.

What does it mean to be told that your best form of protection in this moment is to wash your hands with the very same water that you cannot drink? What does it mean to socially distance but your community has access to fresh groceries at only one store, while neighboring zip codes have access to six within walking distance?

No one should want us to go back to the way things were. To go back to the way things were means that global resources will still be used to fuel the interests of the most wealthy at the expense of the least of us. The fossil fuel industry will still be subsidized at a staggering rate of $20 billion of our tax dollars per year. We have been paying industries to literally poison us for too long.

Going back to the way things were, means we would still live in a world where we can have another Eric Garner. He not only could not breathe because the police choked him out but also because of the dirty air. Dirty air that he and his daughter Erica Garner inhaled everyday and was the slow killer creating fatal respiratory issues for them both.

Going back means living in a world that thought it was okay to poison children in their home with lead and not provide any resources that could have helped save Freddie Gray before that fateful ride in police custody. Going back means that our kids continue to go to school with poisoned air and water. And did I mention Flint still doesn’t have clean water? And neither does Pittsburgh, Newark, Milwaulkee, Miami, communities across North Carolina, and the list goes on.

Sol Summit’s 2019 theme was Environmental Justice Is and how it is connected to social justice. We explored this concept through hands-on workshops, panels, spoken word, open mic, food, and more. We quickly realized how expansive this theme is and that we had only scratched the surface. We are carrying this work forward with the launch of a climate justice solutions based campaign dedicated to the theme Environmental Justice Is.

We are kicking things off with Environmental Justice Is Social Justice and over the next few months we intend to take you on an explorative, educating, and entertaining journey that deepens this connection. What’s the point of solving all the environmental issues but people are still dying at the hands of poverty, mass incarceration, and food insecurities? What’s the point of solving all of the social justice issues and people are dying because they can’t breathe the air, drink the water, or live on the land? The climate has already changed and we must shift radically to where people most vulnerable to impacts caused by the threat of a changing climate, and climate injustices, own their own SOLutions.

Environmental Justice is Food Sovereignty. Environmental Justice is Arts & Culture. Environmental Justice is Racial Justice. Environmental Justice is Education Equity. Environmental Justice is Gender Justice. Environmental Justice is Self-Governance. Environmental Justice is Creation Care. Environmental Justice is Health & Wellness. Environmental Justice is Tech & Data.

We can not be consumed in facts and figures alone when we deal with climate, COVID-19, or any other issue. We must be translators through creative, live, audio, visual, and educational experiences! Join us on this journey and sign up for our newsletter.

For The Land, The Air, The Water, and The People,


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