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The Problem with Earth Day

Artwork by Luisa Rivera for Yale E360

Earth Day is problematic. For years the needs and conservation leadership from Black, Brown and Indigenous folks have been ignored by the environmental justice movement despite our communities suffering the most. Across the U.S. we continue to see examples of the inequity built into environmental justice efforts. Cities like Flint, Michigan still don’t have clean water, and our communities in California aren’t immune to environmental neglect either.

Air pollution plagues our neighborhoods in Fresno, Oakland and Long Beach, so much that the zipcodes we live in are often the largest determinant of health for our children. Similarly, the schools we entrust our young people to are a reflection of the environmental conditions that exist in our communities. So on this Earth Day, as we continue to fight for the safety and protection of the planet, Californians for Justice invites you to consider how we must also work to fight for the places in need of the most support — our schools and communities.

For years we’ve seen how majority Black and Brown neighborhoods, native lands and rural spaces have been polluted but it wasn’t until this year when an formal link was studied and proven to exist between white consumerism and pollutants plaguing majority communities of color. It’s a truth we’ve long known, that communities of color suffer at hands that are not our own. It’s up to us to continue to stand up and recognize the value of our own leadership, neighborhoods and futures. For generations already, we have learned to flourish against the odds and we owe it to ourselves to continue to uplift and strengthen the future generations. This ends and begins with our commitment to youth. If we lead together and recognize our communities and schools as places of beauty and abundance, our students will be empowered to fight for that too.

To help, lead together with Californians for Justice this Earth Day and every other day, check out our work to put the power back in the hands of our own communities and reframe our schools as places of limitless potential and strength.

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