Lefty Resource Library

Posting articles as I go

Tag: environmental justice

A less hierarchical environmentalism, not just for the privileged who can visit ‘real’ nature

‘I had been thoroughly convinced that sunset horizons on large expanses of safari, tall snow-peaked mountains, and boreal forests in northern lands epitomized what qualified as nature worthy of notice. I had wrongly come to believe that to care about nature, I had to feel romantic energy toward these often legislatively conquered, dominated spaces.

‘Domination and neo-colonialism aside, none of these spaces are inherently bad; they are extraordinary features of our world, worthy of notice and definitely worthy of maintaining. The problem is these spaces live within a hierarchical structure. These dominated spaces are often mostly accessible to those of more means and are seen as more deserving of awe than the overgrown block in the middle of inner-city Baltimore. We have come to be numb to the ecosystems that exist around us. We are numb to the raccoon that makes its way through the trash for food and label it a pest. We are numb to the trail of ants that make their way from the outside, and we set death traps around the perimeters of our home.

‘We trap ourselves in an idea of nature that all too often divorces us from the nature in our day-to day-lives, a notion that sets up our urban jungles or suburban islands as places devoid of thriving ecosystems.  In the end, we are left believing that we are separate from nature and, thus, unable to connect with it. Ultimately, we embody the toxic narratives that leave us blind to the beautiful and magnificent things we should be connecting with every day.

‘I have come to realize what rejecting these forms of toxic narratives can mean for us as queer and brown bodies. To see around us is to, ultimately, see us. To be blind to the world around us is to, ultimately, give credence to a world that discredits the bodies moving within these spaces; it is to allow for the consistent injustice against our bodies, our homes, and our communities. In the years I have come to be involved in the environmental justice movement, I have seen countless examples of communities of color who’s environments arepolluted and destroyed by corporations. In these cases, where is the legislation that protects these environments, that protects our lives and families? These environments have not been viewed as deserving of protection or care, and we have too often bought into this.’


Social policies, social discriminations, and environmental injustice

e.g. living near toxic sites like oil refineries in the US:

‘The Richmond Housing Authority, in 1941, was told by the federal government to provide low-cost housing to the shipyard workers who swelled Richmond to a city five times its earlier size. But by 1952, no African American had lived in any of Richmond’s permanent low-rent housing. There was nothing in rentals or sales available to blacks in the central city.

‘Nonwhites were pushed to unincorporated North Richmond and other neighborhoods dominated by the refinery, chemical companies, highways, rail yards and ports.

‘”It was the only land available to them when they wanted to purchase property. People don’t put themselves in harm’s way intentionally,” said Betty Reid Soskin, 93, who moved to the Bay Area with her family when she was eight. She lectures on the African American experience in World War II at the National Historical Park’s Rosie the Riveter project in Richmond. “Real estate developers could determine where you lived. The local banker could determine who could get mortgages.”’