Climate Change is a Black Rights Issue

This Sunday, I’ll be marching on the front lines with the Rockaway Youth Task Force at the People’s Climate March. Vice President Silaka Cox will be one of seven speakers addressing a crowd expected to reach 100,000. Over 1,400 organizations will be participating.

I live in Far Rockaway, an isolated water community in southeast Queens. In 2012, my community was struck by Superstorm Sandy. The devastation was only exacerbated by a dearth of resources that define my segregated community. Decades of poor infrastructure, limited communication, and inaccessible transportation envenomed the overall atrocity of Superstorm Sandy.

It was then that I realized the poor and disadvantaged communities feel the brunt of climate change. Unable to easily bounce back, the most socioeconomically maligned parts of Far Rockaway remain destroyed due to a freak storm. And it’s in these areas where mostly Black and Brown people live.

This unfortunate pattern is not unique to Far Rockaway. Climate change is a global phenomenon in which the poor (who *coincidentally* happen to be people of color) suffer the most. For Black Americans who live in highly concentrated urban areas, pollutants and other toxins threaten the health and safety at unparalleled rates. For Black Americans in rural areas, a lack of political representation along with societal marginalization gets thrown into the fervor.

A great offense is a great defense, as the saying goes. When dealing with the burdensome consequences of natural disasters, stable and sufficient resources are paramount. Sturdy infrastructure, speedy health care services, reliable transportation, and current technologies work to soften the blow of sporadic and recurrent natural disasters. These resources are specifically lacking in poor, Black areas.

Hurricane Katrina is the most glaring example of how systematic disadvantage only worsens environmental impact.

So on Sunday, I’ll be marching. Admittedly, environmental politics and global climate change aren’t my areas of expertise. But as the literature grows and the reality concretizes, it’s clear that environmental justice is a healthy instrument within the holistic Black struggle.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @BlackMusings. Get at us @BlkMillennials


4 responses to “Climate Change is a Black Rights Issue

  1. Pingback: What Black Rights Mean in the 21st Century : Rockaway Youth Task Force·

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