3rd Annual Black Media Story Summit spotlights environmental justice

On Saturday, November 12, at The Deluxe Theater in 5th Ward, from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm the Houston Cinema Arts Society, Black Public Media, and the Austin Film Society will co-host the National Black Media Story Summit in Houston to address the role of media makers and public media executives can play in documenting the devastating impacts of climate change on Black communities and distributing this content to provoke urgent action around climate justice.

The summit will consist of a full day of panels and breakout sessions, with local Houston climate justice activists, as well as filmmakers and activists from across the nation.

“The Black Media Story Summit is actually the brainchild of Black Public Media,” said actress, artist, activist and program manager for this year’s summit, Candice D’Meza. “Event sponsors intend to gather 100 Black filmmakers in a room around different topics to collaborate, create, build networks and connections to advance the future of Black media and storytelling. And this year, our summit is environmental racism and climate justice, which is great because here in Houston we have the father of environmental racism, which is Dr. Robert Bullard at TSU. We have the cancer cluster in Kashmere Gardens. We have a lot of environmental justice issues here in Houston. So, this is going to be a perfect topic.”

D’Meza confronted the reality that environmental issues haven’t been a top priority for most Black and Latinx activists, though they should be.

Black filmmakers at a Houston Cinema Arts Society event.

“Black and Brown people are always disproportionately affected, whether during Harvey, during any climate crisis. Health outcomes, when there’s a cancer cluster, they’re put in our neighborhoods. So, these are our issues. And unfortunately, it seems like there have been some activists screaming into a void for the rest of us to get on board,” said D’Meza, who was like so many Blacks who simply didn’t see themselves in the environmental movement because it has been presented as a mainstream (read “white”) issue.

This summit seeks to do its part to change that perception.

During one session, “Grassroots for the Global Good,” local activists will discuss their climate justice work and their vision for a more just future. The session titled “The Balancing Act” will showcase how filmmakers and creatives can more effectively communicate climate issues with the public. There will also be case studies where leaders detail their projects and how they are seeking to address climate change and environmental issues in their local communities.

“We have a breakout where people can get together across media to pitch a project to Black media. And they’re giving out about $40,000 in grant funding for projects that are created during the summit,” said D’Meza.

Participation is free, but registration is required. The Summit will be held in person as well as virtually. Doris Brown of West Street Recovery is the keynote speaker for the event.

For more information, call 713-429-0420 or email rachel@cinemahtx.org.