Tag Archives: environment

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Quoted: Brentin Mock on Racism and Why We Can’t Breathe

Eddie Bautista, the longtime environmental justice advocate and director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, was quoted in the article saying about Garner’s death, “There are [a] number of ways that racism plays out … The asthma is just one more example.”

I thought the article used a poor occasion to illuminate racial asthma disparities. Bautista explained the larger context to me, though, saying, “The [article] doesn’t take the cops off the hook; on the contrary, it further indicts institutionalized racism in the U.S. for permeating the very air we breathe.”

I initially resisted this notion, refusing to see the connection. In my mind, there was the cop killing Garner in one hand, and Garner’s asthma in another — unrelated. And despite the millions of words I’ve spent over the years showing natural linkage between environmental problems, health problems, and racial justice, my anger with the Garner tragedy only allowed me to realize the police racism and violence. Just because I couldn’t see, or refused to see, the asthma link, though, did not mean it didn’t matter.

“Limiting the conversation about racism to just about how we’re policed is a lost opportunity,” Bautista wrote to me. “Folks should care not only about how racism kills quickly (via the police), but how racism also kills slowly and insidiously. ”

- Brentin Mock, “Why environmentalists should support the Black Lives Matter protests

Decolonization and Occupy Wall Street

by Guest Contributor Robert Desjarlait

Decolonize Oakland

The Occupy Wall Street protest has become a matter of debate in Indian Country. Some have chosen to be included under the slogan – “We Are The 99%; others, like me, have chosen to be excluded from the 99%. Many of those who support it have come up with their own slogan – DECOLONIZE WALL STREET. I simply don’t believe that the indigenous nations on Turtle Island are a part of that 99% equation, let alone that the Occupy Wall Street movement is about decolonization.

One protester, Brendan Burke, said: “Everyone has this problem. White, black. Rich or poor. Where you live. Everyone has a financial inequity oppressing them.”

I assume from his statement that Burke only sees things in white and black. Apparently he is color blind when it comes to red and the brown. As far as financial inequity is concerned, we, the red and the brown peoples of the Americas, have suffered financial inequity ever since the oppressors first invaded our shores. Financial inequity – perhaps better termed as socio-economic inequity – began with the subjugation of our lands through treaties. Annuity payments were often late and were never the amount negotiated under the treaty. Supplies and food rations that were part of annuity payments were often appropriated by Indian agents and resold for higher prices.

The tragedy at Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag (Sandy Lake) exemplifies the socio-economic inequity of annuity payments. In the fall of 1850, nineteen Anishinaabeg bands from Wisconsin journeyed to Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag for annual annuity payments and supplies. The annuity payments and supplies were late and the people had to wait until early December before they received limited sums of money and available supplies. Trying to survive on spoiled and inadequate government rations while waiting for the annuities, 150 Anishinaabeg people died from dysentery and measles at Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag. Two-hundred and fifty more, mostly women children and elders, died on their way back home to Wisconsin. This is but one example of the economic inequity that has been part of the indigenous experience in the United States.

One of the things that the Occupy Wall Street organizers have repeatedly stated is that the inspiration for their protest is the Arab Spring movement. If this is the case, one may ask how did the indigenous peoples of the Middle East fare from the Arab Spring?

On September, Daniel Gabriel, the SUA Human Rights and UN NGO Director, stated: “While the media focuses all its energy on the Palestinian search for Statehood and the ‘Arab Spring’, it is the reduced indigenous populations of the Middle East who continue to lose out. Time and time again, the world demands justice, democracy and freedom in the Middle East, but it fails in its obligation to demand the same for the minority groups like the Arameans. Today we barely survive in our homeland. But tomorrow we may silently vanish from existence. The SUA pleads with the global bodies such as the United Nations and the world community and media to prevent this imminent tragedy from happening.”

If the Arab Spring didn’t flourish for indigenous peoples in the Middle East, how can we expect it to flourish here? Continue reading

Van Jones Pushed Out of the Obama Administration

by Latoya Peterson

Over the weekend, I received the following email from Green For All:

Late last night, Van Jones resigned from his position with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Many of us are left with pain and anger after seeing a leader of integrity, vision, and commitment targeted by hateful personal attacks. Van stepped down in service to our movement. He felt that fighting the attacks would draw attention to him and detract from our mission.

Now, our challenge is to turn our disappointment and anger into action and renewed resolve for our common goals.

Like the great social justice movements of the 20th century, our movement for an inclusive green economy is based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.

That’s why our opponents reduced the debate to fear, hatred, and division. They cannot win a debate about values. They cannot win a debate about solutions. Continue reading

Cameron Diaz Talks Going Green; Skirts Around Environmental Racism

by Latoya Peterson

In this month’s Marie Claire, Cameron Diaz is gracing the cover and bringing a message. The popular starlet has embraced the environment as her new motivation, and is doing a low budget movie/documentary about the state of our fair planet.

The reporter follows Diaz to her old neighborhood in Long Beach, California, noting that her town is “dominated by a behemoth polluter.” Cameron’s childhood memories are tinged with flames from the nearby refinery, the dust that was ever present, and the childhood asthma she experienced.

However, she seems singularly focused on how individuals impact their environment:

Once she has eased people past the shock of encountering her (“Hi, I’m Cameron!”), she drops into a low, wide-leg stance so she’s eye-to-eye with her less willowy interviewees – high school girls, the Latino father of a young boy, a science teacher – then launches into a series of questions while the cameras roll: Do you know where your food, your water come from? Do you worry about the environment? What would it take for you to become more involved? And while people do seem to care, they also indicate a feeling of powerlessness. What, after all, can one person do? Then there is the problem of illegal immigrants – and there are many in this area – being decidedly disinclined to draw attention to themselves by registering complaints about air quality.

But the showstopper is a woman we meet a bit later who lives in a little house in full view of the refinery, who tells Diaz about the morning a sulfur-holding tank at the plant exploded, the still mysterious condition that led to her young son’s open heart surgery, the spike in depression and suicides in the neighborhood, the six-figure payoff one family received when their son was diagnosed with leukemia…

And yet, with unmistakable pride, the woman turns around and lifts her shirt to show us the name of the neighborhood tattooed in large black Gothic letters across the small of her back. Because this, despite everything, is home.

Diaz’s next statement was frustratingly familiar to me as an anti-racist who also has a deep eco-streak. After listing through dozens of environmental slights coming from a corporation and understanding why many residents would not want to call attention to themselves, she still goes on to say:

“I want to leave you with this thought,” Diaz says to the woman. After all you’ve told me…what would it take for you to do something to change your environment?” The woman, speechless, looks like she’s going to cry.

Continue reading

Series Introduction: Globalization – Of Bond and Global Politics

by Guest Contributor Ansel, originally published at Mediahacker

Editor’s Note: I watched the Quantum of Solace the weekend it opened. This is not unusual for me, as I watch all the Bond films and like them all for different reasons. However, I wasn’t planning to write specifically on Bond until longtime reader Ansel (now of the Mediahacker blog) sent his review of the film for consideration. I enjoyed the review, especially as it touched on a matter of great importance in our current times: the effect of globalization on communities of color. And so, I am using Ansel’s review as a jumping off point for larger discussions about global politics and policy, now found using the “globalization” tab. The first of the series will go live tomorrow – until then, enjoy. – LDP

*Spoiler Alert*

James Bond, 007. For decades the British super-spy’s name stood for deadly charisma, over-the-top international espionage, and fancy gadgets – until the series took a more realist approach two years ago when actor Daniel Craig took over the role from Pierce Brosnan. The critics hailed Craig’s turn in “Casino Royale” for his icy cool and the physical presence he brought to new, grittier action sequences. This was finally a Bond for the new century, they said.

From an anti-kyriarchy point-of-view, I think Quantum of Solace better fits that description. Casino Royale’s plot was based on Ian Fleming’s original Bond novel about a corrupt financial magnate. The story took place mostly in Europe and turned on a high-stakes poker match played by ultra-rich elites.

With Solace, all the familiar elements are still there – the frenetic action, expensive cars, the constant tension between Bond and M, his boss at MI6, played by Judi Dench. As in every other Bond movie, most women in the film look like supermodels and are used or controlled by men, whether by force or by Bond’s charm. He sleeps with one of them in this movie, slightly down from absurd average of 2.5 women per film.

But James Bond fighting to protect the water supply for impoverished indigenous Bolivian villages? From a wealthy villain who poses as the head of an eco-friendly company called “Greene Planet” and conspires with U.S. intelligence to overthrow a leftist president? Now there’s something new and timely. Continue reading

Native Land, Youth, and The Future

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Much of what people know about historic Native issues has to do with land on some level. Indeed, much of what we are about today has to do with our land also. Our Mother Earth is the ultimate living entity, something that sustains life and guides us as a people. They say that without our land, we are nothing.

Nowadays, the news that is frequently dispelled from our communities if you are involved in any left-learning circles are about things like land claims, environmental degradation and destruction, and the suffering and plight of our people as a result of our Mother Earth being taken away from us. While this is all true and essential to acknowledge that we need land for the people, we also need people for the land. I know for myself that whenever I enter an activist space of some sort, I’m constantly being asked about whatever land struggle that is currently going on in some Native community, to which I’ll often reply “I work in sexual and reproductive health. Do you know the latest statistic on AIDS in Aboriginal communities?”

People ask me this I think for maybe a few stereotypical reasons (like they think that we all know everything about each other and send smoke signals the other way to find out), but mostly because it would appear that these are very key issues for us to be involved in, and in reality, we do need this place for the prophecies of our next 7 generations to come true. While I am still a learner when it comes to subjects like environmental justice and food sustainability, I know I cannot separate myself from my community whatsoever, and these are the simultaneous realities we must deal with when even discussing things like sexuality and violence prevention in our communities. I have to be informed.

We cannot pit one issue on top of the other as being more pressing; it’s all affecting us somehow. Continue reading