Tuesday, February 10, 2009

RED BLACK AND GREEN - Why Black People Hate Environmentalists

I recently gave a lecture called Black and Green. One of the areas I tried to examine was what the barriers to sustainable lifestyles may be for Black people and the public idea of environmentalism. In my humble opinion there are many, but a few stick out for me :

Expense - Whole Foods is a tad outside of most people's budget. Shame because those one bite brownies are a right not a privilege.

The Dominant Voice - Al Gore, Leonardo Dicaprio and others ...lovely people I am sure ...not a lot of credibility in Bed Stuy

Prescriptive - No one wants more crap to do.

Perception -Early on seemed like a lot of hairy underarmed tree huggers..the modern environmental movement seems like celebrity and tragically hip urbanites. Majora Carter needs more urban exposure...maybe an interview in Black Hair magazine guest appearance on Flavor of Love? Whatever it takes man.

Political - No one is legislating in the Black community for better access to Solar panels and maybe they shouldn't. I am sure a conversation about the asthma rates due to pollution, land fills in the hood, and Green collar jobs may resonate though!

Cultural Disconnect - Sorry Polar Bears are not our priority.

So on a more positive note. Let's talk about the things we ALREADY DO. Environmentalist like to beat up on the rest of us. The lovely Rhea Combs Brown gives us urban dwellers a pat on the back. We are actually doing things everyday and becoming more Green by the minute.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post... hadn't really thought of it that way, but I see your point.


christao408 said...

Great entry. As an urban dweller in Bangkok, I really appreciate the fact that there are many things we can do (or already are doing) to help the environment.

It was also interesting to read your points about why "green" hasn't taken off in the black community. It seems that we need to look at issues of justice and equality much more broadly. As you point out, saving the polar bears isn't the only environmental concern!

eco bling said...

Hey Heather -
yeah even though there is a bit of "tongue firmly planted in cheek" here it is really true to some extent. Not just for Black folks but working class folks, older folks, new immigrants, children take your pick. A lot of people don't have a voice in this VITAL movement. Its ironic because it is the one thing that could unite us all...our world!? So I hope we use any influence we have to make sure Green conversations are "translated" for all..ya know?

eco bling said...

thanks Christao408 - I'd love to know what is happening on the ground in Bangkok. Urban areas in some ways becoming great leaders in the Green movement just by nature of our shared resources. Of course we are the problem as well. I can't imagine a landfill in Bangkok?!
I have been reading about the Mekong River Dam issue as well. Interesting.

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Ishka Designs said...

Interesting post. Maybe the black faces of pop culture need to be more vocal about the environment...kids, et al seem all too happy to jump on any bandwagon that they drive. Its about time they drive hybrid.