Browngirl Going Green

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.


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-

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.

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?