Black people have been fighting for equal access to clean air and clean water for decades. Communities of color breathe 40% more polluted air, on average, than White communities. Despite being only 13% of the US population, 68% of Black people live within 30 miles of dirty, coal-fired power plants (compared to 56% of Whites). Following the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, oil-coated sand and debris were dumped in landfills in primarily Black communities in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. These realities do not occur by accident. They are the results of a long history of environmental injustice and racism.
In the age of climate change, disparities in access to a clean and safe environment will worsen without action. This is why Black people have been and must continue to be on the frontlines of environmental and climate justice. As natural disasters increase in frequency and intensity, communities must organize for collective preparedness and protection. This panel will honor the work that has been done and discuss the work that must be done to facilitate Black awareness and political action on issues of environmental and climate justice.