Environmental Justice and Equity Resource Guide
Sustainability encompasses both environmental action and efforts to build just and equitable communities. Indeed, climate change and pollution disproportionately affect people of color around the world. Therefore, the work of environmental justice is directly tied to equity and social justice.
The connections between sustainability and equity have often gone unnoticed or even been rejected. Nevertheless, the links between systemic racism and environmental injustice are undeniable.
Better understanding these links can help us all work towards building a more equitable and sustainable society. We’ve been delving even deeper into this work and these connections in the last few weeks and wanted to share what we’re reading and learning. Here are some resources we’ve found helpful:
- Understanding the history of systemic racism is an important step towards understanding the root of environmental racism. The New York Times Magazine’s The 1619 Project chronicles the history of slavery in the United States and the ways Black Americans have shaped the country. Yale also offers an open class on African American History. For more anti-racism resources, check out the Anti-Racist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist from the Chicago Public Library.
- We’re listening to the podcast series “Seeing White” and also found the latest Ezra Klein conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates to be quite interesting.
- PBS Utah put together this short conversational series How to Talk to Kids about Race, featuring several people from our SLC community you might recognize.
- Somini Segupta wrote an expansive guide entitled “Read Up on the Links between Racism and the Environment“ for the New York Times. The reading guide includes everything from hard science to sci-fi, and provides a broad platform for understanding racial injustice in the context of climate.
- Will promoting anti-racism efforts will take away from climate activism? For a perspective on that topic, check out Columbia University Earth Institute’s writer in residence Mary Annaïse Heglar’s “We Don’t Have to Halt Climate Action to Fight Racism.”
- You can also check out a new website co-founded by environmentalists Leah Thomas, Diandra Esparza and Sabs Katz, Intersectional Environmentalist. The site provides information from environmentalists in different communities including Latinx and U.S. Indigenous Communities– communities which have also continued to fight oppression and environmental racism. Intersectional Environmentalist provides extensive reading lists to understand all of the intersections of environmental work. Founder Leah Thomas’ writing was recently featured in Vogue, where she links her work in environmental policy to anti-racism.
Environmental racism is often overlooked when understanding the impact of other social issues. For example, a recent study on COVID-19 showed that minorities are disproportionately affected by the illness due to many systemic factors. However the study was harshly criticized for excluding air quality, which also disproportionately endangers communities of color and may make COVID-19 symptoms worse.
Additionally, the environmental movement frequently excludes BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) voices. However, a Yale study found that Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals are more likely to be concerned about climate change than white people.
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with Black voices in environmentalism, Green Matters and One Green Planet compiled lists of leaders in the environmental movement whose work is worth exploring and elevating.
You’re also invited to learn more about climate justice through Sierra Club’s Climate Conversations Series.