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Environmental Justice

A DEFINITION:
environmental justice: Environmental justice is a movement in response to environmental racism, which refers to the disproportionate impact of climate change, pollution, and other environmental risks on communities of color.

CONTEXT & HISTORY:
Environmental justice is a movement in response to environmental racism. The environmental justice movement isn’t seeking to simply redistribute environmental harms, but to abolish them. Seventeen core principles of the environmental justice movement were developed by Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held in 1991 in Washington DC. Introduction to statement of principles:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF COLOR, gathered together at this multinational People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, to begin to build a national and international movement of all peoples of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, do hereby re-establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of our Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world and our roles in healing ourselves; to ensure environmental justice; to promote economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally safe livelihoods; and, to secure our political, economic and cultural liberation that has been denied for over 500 years of colonization and oppression, resulting in the poisoning of our communities and land and the genocide of our peoples, do affirm and adopt these Principles of Environmental Justice. (Environmental Justice Network)

Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate impact of climate change — along with pollution and other environmental risks — on communities of color. The term “environmental racism” was initially coined in the 1980s by the Rev. Ben Chavis, in part to describe the phenomenon of pollution-producing facilities like factories or landfills predominantly being built in or near poor communities of color, frequently without their knowledge or input. (A Glossary Of Anti-Racism Terms All Activists & Allies Should Know by Madhuri Sathish)

MEDIA LINKS:
PBS video with Robert Bullard (17-minute video)

Robert Bullard interview with Earth First! from 1999 (9-minute read)

Environmental racism infographic from The Slow Factory and Race Forward (1-minute read)

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