Browngirl Going Green


More People of Color Voices on the BP Oil Spill
June 17, 2010, 3:13 am
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Just to be clear that I know that President Obama’s voice is not the only—nor the most important—voice on the BP oil spill. Here’s a great video from the folks at the Gulf Restoration Network profiling some of the people who live in the Gulf Coast, who have some important things to say. My favorite quote from the video is from Gulf resident Rosina Philip: “I think we can do something better, and that’s not happening because people don’t want to get off of that bottom line. And it’s all about profit, it’s all about profit! And it’s like, profit for today, and you suffer for generations afterwards…it’s enough of that!”



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.

http://action.healthygulf.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=3796

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-
Rona



The Personal is Political (aka the Earth is My Home)
January 27, 2010, 11:34 pm
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Today I Googled ‘environmentalism’ and hit the ‘News’ search button. This article was the first page that turned up in the results. Which is cool, because there should be more widespread media coverage of politicians doing things to support environmental justice. But it’s also a little scary that in a country where there are thousands of organizations doing environmental work, that something as obscure as this came up first. I hope this means that GoogleNews is tuned to search for obscure indie journalist reports first!

There’s definitely been a lot of buzz in the environmental world since the Copenhagen talks on the climate crisis in December. Last week I attended a reportback, sponsored by Movement Generation, from some of the US grassroots delegates that were there during the conference. The consensus seemed to be that Copenhagen was a failure, and that progressives need to do a lot more to connect all the different issues we work on—whether we work on affordable housing, economic issues, conservation, public education, juvenile justice, etc.—to the climate crisis. I wasn’t able to stay long enough to hear how people proposed doing that, but I’ve been part of the progressive movement long enough to know that some of the barriers to bridging these different sectors can be very entrenched and rigid.

I see the connections between the economic crisis and the climate crisis very clearly. Capitalism and industrialization have created whole societies that value natural resources only as commodities, not as precious sources of sustenance and survival. The rapid and unending accumulation of wealth has become, for many, the ultimate ‘American Dream’—so why are we surprised when that accumulation also forces others into poverty? Why are we surprised that our debt-based economy has collapsed, when it was built on little more than speculation (aka gambling)? And why are some of us still shocked that the Earth’s resources are becoming more and more scarce, that water is quickly becoming the next natural resource over which wars will be fought?

Which brings me back to the purpose of my blog, which I think I’ve strayed from a bit since my first post about a week and a half ago. As the big picture policy fights and politicking rage on, how will I—as one individual woman of color who cares about the future of humanity on this planet—make a difference? This question goes beyond just signing a petition, composting my organic food waste, or taking public transit more often. It calls into question our whole way of living, and makes me want to, once again, take a hard look at how we live, day by day, in this society. Am I being frugal with our abundant resources, or wasteful? Am I being grateful for what I have, or resentful for what I don’t have (and probably don’t really need)? Am I encouraging other people to do their part?

Unfortunately, the folks who don’t believe that the personal is very political, especially where the environment is concerned, unfortunately still wield more power and influence than those of us who feel this in our guts and bones and hearts. I care about the Earth because the Earth is my home—even if there were another planet to migrate to, I wouldn’t want to. I want to take care of my home, and I know we can.

So what will I do—and what will you do—to take care of our home?



Haiti and the Choice That Lies Before Us All

I have to admit, when I was blog-surfing and looking for information on the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, I came across a few obscure posts that it could’ve been triggered by US-sponsored oil drilling. It seemed like a hyper-paranoid lefty conspiracy theory that was using a tragic natural disaster to (once again) point out how evil US imperialism is. And while I agree on the evil nature of US imperialism, I was still skeptical. But after reading this blog post from the Haitian Blogger, I’m a little more convinced. This blog goes deeper than the sensationalist ‘Bush did it!’ rhetoric that I’d read in a different blog, and backs up opinions with more facts, specifically from Haitian and other officials who’ve warned about the dangers of deep drilling in triggering large earthquakes.

Also, the Haitian Blogger points out that the country’s emergency response system was gutted under the Bush-backed Preval administration, which obviously would weaken any rescue and relief efforts after a disaster such as an earthquake. As we can see in other poor countries like Cuba, which is hit yearly by often-devastating hurricanes, even the most basic infrastructure and prevention efforts can minimize human deaths. In California, during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (which I experienced), killed only 63 people, in large part because of the more strict building codes here but also because of better infrastructure to deal with rescue and relief efforts.

In any case, whether you believe drilling for oil and mining triggered the Haitian earthquake of 2010 or not, environmental degradation and the neglect of infrastructure-building in Haiti has made this natural disaster a man-made disaster. Many other bloggers have commented on this terrible phenomenon, Mother Jones published a decent piece, and the UK Guardian published a good commentary. Naomi Klein has also been writing extensively about Haiti using the lens of her new book on ‘disaster capitalism’ called Shock Doctrine, which I have yet to read. Clearly, what’s happened in Haiti is a long-standing man-made disaster that has only been grossly exacerbated by a natural (or semi-natural?) disaster.

And the fact that Haiti is the first Black republic of the Western Hemisphere, and the result of the largest African slave revolt in history? Of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that the governments of much larger industrialized nations keep intervening in their sovereign affairs,right? Like sponsoring invasions or propping up dictators or demanding the Haitian government follow neoliberal economic policies that keep its people poor. The racism here is too blatant.

The bottom line? Human activity on Earth can be damaging, exploitative and deadly, or it can be healing, life-affirming and cooperative. It’s our job as a species to decide which path we want to take. I choose the latter. How about you?