Environmental justice is the crossroads between social justice and environmental protection and are utterly linked. Protections for the environment of people of color and low income communities leads to a better environment for everyone.
Poorer communities and communities of color are usually most affected by pollution, climate change, water quality, and many other harmful environmental burdens. Because many of these communities are often next to something that pollutes the air, water, or environment, it becomes impossible to have a healthy lifestyle. Kids can’t play outside, people don’t feel safe, or can’t safely drink from their own tap water. These communities are “othered” or forced to the outside of towns because of race and/or income bracket. Because of this, their health problems go “unnoticed” or “unheard”.
In the early 1980s, one community in Warren County of North Carolina fought back, which turned into a national campaign. This became the birth of the environmental justice movement (see videos below for complete history). Later, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit gathered in 1991 to produce principle, which today help guide action. You can read those Principles here.
In order to work on anti-racist policies for our communities, organizations, and homes, we must also consider environmental justice: the opposite of environmental justice is environmental racism. See our Social Justice Advocacy Resource page to help further your work.
What’s the next thing you can do?