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!

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My Review of the Karate Kid Remake
June 20, 2010, 1:04 pm
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Ok, this is a bit of a stretch for a blog about environmentalism and people of color, but I thought some of my readers here might enjoy this post at my other blog about the new Karate Kid movie. Would love to hear your thoughts, too, so feel free to comment.



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!”



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.



Inspiring: Going Green (and Super-Cool) in Hong Kong
May 14, 2010, 5:20 am
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I get really tired—as I’m sure we all do—of only focusing on all the bad stuff that’s happening in the world, around the environment, politics, etc. So it’s rejuvenating to find inspiring stories like this one.

One of my theories about the future is that people who’ve had to make do with less—poor people of all colors, immigrants/migrants, Third World people—will have a much easier time adapting to the possibly imminent water and food shortages facing people in the ‘developed’ nations of the world. The example that Mr. Chang gives in the video of his household of five-plus people living in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong reminds me of when I went to the Philippines and was stunned (but tried to hide my surprise so I didn’t appear too ignorant or rude) that while my family let me sleep in the same bed with only one other person (my cousin Shirley, who’s about the same age as me), three of my younger cousins shared a space on the floor that was no more than 2 feet by 5 feet long. AND that sleeping ‘space’ they all shared was sandwiched between the bed I slept in and the bathroom. Yes, I said the bathroom.Needless to say, my very First World sensibilities were thoroughly offended.

Now I’m not saying that everyone should be forced to live in tiny studio apartments with ten other people, but we all have to learn how to live with less—and people that are used to having a lot less are at an advantage in that way. They can be more resourceful, more utilitarian, more practical about how to use what they have to meet their needs. And Mr. Chang, in the video, proves this beautifully.



“All Shades of Green”: Bloggers Write About the Environment
April 27, 2010, 4:33 pm
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One of my blog posts is featured in the Scratch-n-Sniff ‘All Shades of Green’ blog carnival, which is part of the Diversity in Science series. My blogging buddy Dianne Glave, the author of the forthcoming book, Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African-American Environmental Heritage, is hosting the carnival, which features posts from an eclectic range of writers (including several writers of color) on the theme of ‘all things April: Earth Day, Arbor Day, environmental awareness, etc.

I’m honored to be in the virtual company of such an amazing cohort of writers! Read more about the carnival and see the links to all of our blog posts on Dianne’s blog.



More Brownfolks Going Green

Jarid Manos and his son Kaiden (from the Ghetto Plainsmen web site)

Thanks to fellow blogger Dianne Glave for giving me the heads-up on two other people of color who are going green and writing about it. It’s been inspiring and cool for me to find these kindred spirits online, and makes me want to plan a cross-country trip so that I can meet these folks and see some of the wild places that have inspired them and their writing.

First, there’s DNLee at the Urban Science Adventures! blog, who recently visited San Francisco and seemed to have had a grand time. She’s a scientist who’s blogging about discovering nature in urban areas—one of my favorite people-of-color-and-the-environment topics. Since so many of us live in and / or identify with urban areas, either by choice or by force of circumstance (economic or otherwise) I think it’s important for people of color to (re)claim nature in the cities and towns where we live. Environmentalism is not just about going to the backwoods and living off the land—it’s about stewarding all of our natural resources in a way that’s respectful and sustainable.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dianne also introduced me to Jarid Manos, whose new book is provocatively and intriguingly titled The Ghetto Plainsman. Jarid is the CEO of the Great Plains Restoration Council, whose mission is to “restore and protect our shattered prairies and plains through developing youth leaders in Ecological Health”. I love this mission statement, and the way the organization integrates the healing of our young people and humanity with the healing of our land and ecosystems.

The time I spent in the Pacific Northwest last year as part of the Windcall Institute—a three-week-long nature residency for activists and organizers to recover from burnout and reconnect to our essential selves—showed me first-hand nature’s power to heal and to grant clarity and purpose. I came back from my time in that rugged, wild part of the world with a renewed sense of connection to the Earth, and a stronger commitment to making environmentalism part of my social justice work as well as my writing and my everyday life. I started this blog in part because of my time at Windcall—so I totally get that we need nature to heal ourselves, and that our acts of healing the Earth are also healing for ourselves.

Lastly, I’m going to be submitting something for the April Diversity in Science Carnival, a sort of blogging festival that’s being curated this month by Dianne, whose book, Rooted in the Earth is coming out in a few months. The theme this month is, of course, Earth Day, which happens every year on April 20th. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to write, but I’ll think of something.