How to Make the Green Movement Less White
Van Jones (the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California) recently wrote in Alternet :
“To put it bluntly, people of color have much more directly at stake in the greening of America than white college students do. More people of color have not yet grabbed the microphone for three reasons: our long-standing pattern of viewing environmental issues as luxury concerns; the mainstream media's "whites only" coverage of the green phenomenon; and serious structural impediments to action within the racial justice movement itself. First of all, too often we have said: "We are overwhelmed with violence, bad housing, failing schools, excessive incarceration, poor healthcare and joblessness. We can't afford to worry about spotted owls, redwood trees and polar bears. But Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath taught us that the coming ecological disasters will hit the poor first and worst. More of us are beginning to see that there can be no separation between our concern for vulnerable people and our concern for a vulnerable planet."
This is not just a challenge for people of color, but equally so for the green, natural, organic, eco, mostly white business community. That is us, or rather me. Seventh Generation is deeply committed to equity and justice, a commitment we have struggled to fulfill, but a commitment we will never forget. Many thanks to Van for this not so gentle reminder that the fresh air we work so hard to ensure that we can breathe, must be enjoyed by all.