Tuesday Night Owls. Dorceta Taylor: ‘Environmental justice demands listening’

Tuesday Night Owls. Dorceta Taylor: ‘Environmental justice demands listening’

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

When Yale Professor of environmental sociology Dorceta E. Taylor wrote The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations in 2014, she learned that minorities made up just 14.6% of the staff of environmental organizations even though people of color make up 38% of the U.S. population. At Sierra magazine, she writes—Environmental Justice Demands Listening:

Racism, discrimination, sexism, and classism were rampant in the early environmental movement. In his 1893 book, The Wilderness Hunter, Theodore Roosevelt expressed open animus toward Native Americans and wrote that the land and its resources belonged to white settlers who were “tillers of the soil, not mere wilderness wanderers.”

Dorceta Taylor

John James Audubon documented and warned about the decimation of birds and other wildlife in the 19th century. He also bought and sold slaves. In the same way that we cannot disregard Audubon’s voracious appetite for killing birds to get the perfect specimens to illustrate, we cannot ignore his role as a slaveholder. Some of the founders of the Sierra Club and the Save the Redwoods League were well-known eugenicists, and their organizations excluded people of color and working-class whites well into the 20th century.

The environmental justice movement arose because of the urgent need to make connections between racism, discrimination, equity, justice, and the environment. Published in 1962, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s brilliantly crafted exposé about the dangers of pesticides, helped usher in the modern environmental movement. But the book focused on wildlife and human health without accounting for how pesticides disproportionately harmed farmworkers—particularly seasonal-immigrant laborers of color. When the United Farm Workers fought indiscriminate organophosphate use on the grounds of worker safety, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund declined to support them, since organophosphates caused less harm to wildlife than DDT.

In 1972, Sierra Club members were asked to vote on the question “Should the Club concern itself with the conservation problems of such special groups as the urban poor and ethnic minorities?” Most members voted no. But there was a generational divide—the younger the members, the more likely they were to agree that they should.

Bringing on employees and board members of color—and treating them as authorities—could have prevented the environmental movement from alienating some of the most skilled organizers in US history. Instead, environmental organizations have shied away from collaboration and continue to stereotype people of color vis-à-vis their engagement with environmental issues. Within these organizations, there are no (or very few) people who know what it’s like to be afraid for their lives when interacting with the police or jogging down the street. Most of the people in these organizations don’t know what it’s like to see the look of fear on white hikers’ faces when these hikers encounter them on the trail, or to have their intelligence and accomplishments questioned by whites on a routine basis.

Instead, big environmental groups developed policies like cap-and-trade without consultation with environmental justice organizations. Cap-and-trade placed limits on overall emissions but allowed big polluters like oil refineries to purchase the right to emit more. Those big polluters were more likely to be located in communities of color, and later assessments showed that those communities became more polluted after cap-and-trade policies went into effect. […]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

The Long History of the FBI’s Surveillance of Martin Luther King, by Robert Greene II. A new documentary details the bureau’s response to King and how the harassment of left-wing radicals and activists of color was integral to its mission in the 20th century.

Why is America getting a new $100 billion nuclear weapon? by Elizabeth Eaves. America is building a new weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear missile the length of a bowling lane. It will be able to travel some 6,000 miles, carrying a warhead more than 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It will be able to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a single shot. The US Air Force plans to order more than 600 of them.

This year will be huge for electric cars — here’s why, by Andrew J. Hawkins. Seven new EVs coming in 2021 and what they tell us about this massive sea change in the auto industry.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2006—Cheney drank before shooting his pal:

In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Brit Hume this afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney took full responsibility for shooting his hunting companion, who has until now been pictured as the guilty party. The interview will not aired in full until 6 p.m. but according to Hume, in summarizing the contents, the vice president remained “totally unapologetic” about the long lag in reporting the shooting to the public—and also said that he had consumed one beer at lunch that day.

Cheney must consume a virtual cocktail of drugs every day because of his heart condition. I wonder what kind of reaction throwing alcohol into the mix might have.

Any doctors in the house?

Update: Here’s […] Hume talking about his interview with Cheney. You see, according to Cheney, they drank beer but no one drank beer:

HUME: He said he had a beer at lunch and that had been many hours earlier. And it was dusk, around 5:00 p.m., when this incident happened. And he said that, you know, they had lunch out in the field, a barbecue, and he had a beer. But you said you don’t hunt with people who have been drinking. He said no one was drinking. He said they went back to the ranch afterwards, took a break after that, and went out about 3:00 and so you’re four or five hours distanced from the last alcohol that he consumed. And he said no one was drinking, not he nor anyone else

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”

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