I wrote this for Loop21
, where I am a political contributor.
No matter their daily struggles, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t want clean air and water. But all too often, Black people are denied those basic needs: We are nearly twice as likely to live within 1.8 miles of a hazardous waste facility as we are to live anywhere else, and a shocking 90% of poor inner city Black three- to five-year-olds have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Call it sad, or call it environmental racism — you’ll be right either way. The movement that seeks to right these wrongs is called environmental justice
, but there’s no way forward without people on the ground who care. We sat down with Al Huang, the senior attorney at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who directs the organization’s environmental justice work, to discus why environmentalism should matter to you, and how you can help. Loop21: What does environmental justice mean to you?
Al Huang: Nobody wants to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air. And people of color and low-income communities should not bear the brunt of our society’s environmental burdens. Moreover, they should also have benefits, such as nice, open green spaces, access to healthy food, access to amenities like parks and greenways and bike paths. That’s what environmental justice means to me.
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