THIS! is committed to fighting climate change to provide environmental and racial justice. As Ibram X. Kendi notes in How to Be an Antiracist: “Do-nothing climate policy is racist policy…”
Black, Indigenous and People of Color (and poverty!) are on the front lines of climate catastrophe because they so often live in “sacrifice zones,” areas that the powers that be have deemed appropriate for locating polluting sources in or nearby because the people who live there lack the political power to prevent it. Houston, Texas and the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota are just two examples.
Dr. Robert Bullard documented 40 years ago that 82% of solid waste in Houston was dumped in mostly Black neighborhoods even though the population of the city is only 25% Black. More recent studies confirmed that race remains “the best predictor where commercial hazardous waste facilities are located…”
The Dakota Access Pipeline was originally routed near North Dakota’s capitol city, Bismarck. This did not set well with the mostly White people of Bismarck and an alternate route was developed that bordered the Standing Rock Reservation and crossed under the Tribe’s source of drinking water, which led to extensive protests by “The Water Protectors” from the tribe.
There is another reason to ensure that racial justice is included in our work. Our success depends on solidarity — the real super power — and racism divides us. Here’s the Sierra Club’s Hop Hopkins: “…we will never survive the climate crisis without ending white supremacy.
“Here’s why: You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can’t have disposable people without racism.
“…The richest people need for white supremacy to remain invisible so they can continue to plunder our planet. They need those sacrifice zones, and the racism that justifies them, or they’ll have nowhere to put their trash and pollution. In this way, white supremacy serves to divide white working people from Black working people. Today’s one-percenters are able to sacrifice whole communities using more or less the same methods the settlers used: By dividing people into racial categories and directing the worst of their abuse at the people at the bottom of a manufactured racial hierarchy. There’s a term for this: It’s called punching down.”
Black, Indigenous and People of Color have risked their lives in heroic attempts to save the planet’s resources (e.g., the Amazon Rainforest). THIS! intends to fight for environmental and racial justice and against the creation, extension and continuation of sacrifice zones.