Browngirl Going Green

Yes, I am Thinking and Saying Things, Just Not Here
July 9, 2010, 5:30 pm
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Oscar Grant mural in downtown Oakland on 17th and Telegraph

As a person of color, a writer, an activist, as a long-time resident of Oakland and someone who is Bay Area born-and-bred, I have some strong opinions and feelings about yesterday’s verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial re: the murder of Oscar Grant. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to blog about it now because I have other writing to do, but if you’re interested in finding out more about what I think, please visit my Twitter feed, which is the main way I’ve been communicating with folks about what’s happening here.

And special shout out to Max Elbaum, fellow activist, writer and Oakland resident, whom I ran into at the rally last night downtown. He told me he's been following my blog (not sure which one) so just want to give him special thanks!


Black Man (Trying to) Go Green
June 16, 2010, 2:19 pm
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I don’t agree with all of President Obama’s clean energy recommendations, I did appreciate many aspects of his speech on the BP oil spill and the tragic aftermath in the Gulf of Mexico. As I watched and listened to his speech, I also couldn’t help but remark to myself, ‘This is a Black man who is the President of the United States, talking about environmentalism on national television.” Since the ‘face’ and image of environmentalism on a national level in this country has been largely White, the historical weight of that fact needs to be recognized.

June 13, 2010, 4:05 pm
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It’s been frickin’ hot lately here in the Bay Area—and while the Bay definitely has its fair share of hot spots, Oakland is generally not one of them. It’s warmer here, yes, than in San Francisco most of the time, but not as hot as, say, Concord, Pittsburg, Antioch or other points further east and farther away from the ocean.

So it’s a little weird that in early June—when at times the weather can be so mild in the Bay that you wonder whether you’ve got the dates right in your calendar—we’re having 80+ degree weather. Climate change? Natural fluke? I’m no weather expert, but I have lived here all my life, and I can say that the weather has become more erratic and extreme of late, shifting from cool and rainy (just a week ago) to swelteringly hot and back again. Weather in the Bay Area always has been a bit changeable and unpredictable, but generally we don’t get more than a 10-degree swing from month to month. And while I generally do like heat, and my tomatoes in the garden are loving it, it’s been a little strange.

Of course, all this heat is coming when all of us are thinking more and more about our dependence on oil as a fuel source, with the BP spill still leaking and tons of birds and other wildlife in the Gulf dying or suffering, and whole communities being devastated by this awful disaster. And in the local Oakland Tribune, there was an article today about how the waters of the Bay are rising, threatening to displace more than a quarter of a million residents from their homes in the next 50+ years.

On a positive note, however, there is a silver cloud to the BP oil spill tragedy—that hopefully it will get more people to open their eyes to the reality that we cannot keep exploiting the earth’s natural resources without some pretty terrible repercussions. And also, that we need to realize that everything is connected, and that the extreme weather many of us are witnessing is only one symptom of a larger problem.

In the meantime, I await my new oscillating fan/ionic filter for my home, and hunker down to do some reading and gearing up for some writing workshops, and continue to try to live as green as possible during what promises to be a hot, hot summer.

One Way to Help: A Fundraiser’s Request

I sent this email out to several of my colleagues and friends, because as a fundraiser and an activist I can’t just sit idly by while animals die, people’s livelihoods are destroyed, and an entire eco-system is plagued by man-made death and destruction. It’s bad out there. So please do what you can to help the people who really do care about the environment and communities of the Gulf Coast to hold BP accountable and aid in the cleanup efforts. This is just one way to help, but it is a way.

Hey there,

It makes me so mad to watch the news every night and see how badly the oil spill is affecting the Gulf of Mexico. The environment, the communities there, the whales . . . it’s crazy.

Luckily, there’s one easy thing we can do to help. The Gulf Restoration Network is keeping us up-to-date on their blog, and you can take action to make sure BP cleans up its mess by clicking the link below.

Also, please consider making a donation to their work. I found about GRN through my friend Judy Hatcher, a long-time environmental justice activist who knows what’s what in the movement, and so I trust her opinion. GRN was her first referral to me when I asked about ways that I could help with this awful crisis in the gulf.

Thanks and take care,
Towards a just and sustainable world-

We Need More!
May 27, 2010, 3:39 pm
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While President Obama is expected to announce an extension of a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling today, all I can think is, ‘We need more!’

Not more oil, but more of a lot of other things: more respect for the environment, more public education about and infrastructure-building for alternative energy sources, more protections against the potentially destructive and ultimately unnecessary offshore drilling that’s resulted in the hot mess that is the Gulf oil spill, which the LA Times environmental blog reports as being far worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.

The superstitious Roman Catholic in me can’t help but think, ‘Why have two disasters of epic proportions struck the Gulf coast in the past decade?’ First Katrina and now this. And while deep down inside I don’t believe in a punitive God who rains destruction down on sinners, I do believe in karma. And offshore drilling is just wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels, and I’m not surprised if Mother Earth is just sick and tired of our endless plundering of her natural resources and in her own epic way is saying, ‘Enough!’ And now, a the spill has reached a powerful loop current that could move the oil to Florida and beyond. Hot mess indeed! And it was just a matter of time before people started getting sick. And while officials are saying that the leak has finally been contained, I don’t sense anyone out there doing any high fives or holding any celebratory parties.

Because the cleanup on this is going to take a frickin’ long, LONG time, and the impact on wildlife, the ecosystem and human beings will persist long after most of the oil is gone.

The one upshot to all of this could be that this crisis is forcing a lot more people to have deeper and more sustained conversations about our energy usage and the dangers of offshore drilling. Even mainstream nature media stalwart National Geographic is airing a special tonight about the spill.

And that’s what we need more of—more conversation about things that really matter, like how we’re going to sustain ourselves on this planet, and not just distracting, mindless talk about TV shows or celebrities or fashion. Not that I don’t do those things myself, but there comes a point when you have to get clear on your priorities. And now more than ever that’s what we ALL need to do.

Reeling: The Oil Spill Continues
May 12, 2010, 5:49 am
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My mind’s still reeling with the news that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has still not been stopped and that thousands of gallons of crude are still leaking. Even more outrageous are the dishonest double-talk quotes from BP representatives. For example, excerpted from the New York Times article linked above:

“‘I wouldn’t say it has failed yet,’ said Doug Suttles, the operating officer for exploration and production for BP, the company that was leasing the oil rig when it exploded April 20. ‘What I would say is what we attempted to do last night didn’t work.'”

WHAT? What’s the frickin’ difference between ‘it didn’t work’ and ‘it failed?’ It’s appalling how these guys just outright LIE to all of us and will most likely walk away from this whole situation with just a few dollars short, maybe their jobs lost, but will probably just end up at some other oil company somewhere else in the world and do it all over again.

And I’m equally pissed at the media (liberal or otherwise), that has ‘moved on’, as the media is wont to do, to the next ‘new’ story: the political drama unfolding during the Senate investigation into what will undoubtedly be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Not that I’m saying that story isn’t important, but can we please spend more time talking about the environmental impact of this? Like the fact that the oyster-harvesters and other seafood harvesters in that part of the world could forever lose their entire livelihood and way of life? Not to mention what such damage to the ecosystem there would ripple through the rest of the food chain (and I’m not just talking about human beings not being able to get an oyster po’ boy).

This outrages me to no end, and I feel more people should be outraged, but I feel like even amongst my progressive/liberal friends, I hear very little talk about this. It’s like we just expect bad things to keep happening like this, and we just put our heads down and keep doing what we were doing. I’ve been doing the same, so I’m criticizing myself as well, but when do we stop and say, ‘Enough?’ And when, more importantly, do we then DO something different?

If This Doesn’t Change Our Actions, What Will?
May 8, 2010, 6:30 am
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I’ve been appalled, as many people have, by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico over the past week. It’s insane to me that this has not yet been contained. I literally have no words to express how outraged I am about this, and how inane it is that we are even in this predicament. I recently started reading Van Jones’ book, The Green Collar Economy, which starts off with an excellent preface by Robert Kennedy, Jr., who articulates how a nationwide shift to clean(er) energy such as solar, wind, etc. could be both a boon to our struggling economy as well as better for the environment.

Well, all I have to say is, for anyone that believes after this gigantic oil spill—the largest in the history of the US, if not the world—that a fossil-fuel based economy is still a good way to go, they may be certifiably insane.