Why African Americans must fight for the environment

As the environment columnist for the AFRO, I have provided environmental and sustainable living information on various topics from “The Greener Side of Real Estate” to “How to Avoid G.M.O.’s in Foods” and recently, “Trump Stance on the Environment is a Disgrace.”

As an environmentalist, my work is to give honor to the living, breathing, organic being we call Earth. Through environmental education and implementation, I have been preaching the word to people of color to get active and become stakeholders in preserving, sustaining and protecting the very being that gives all living organic beings life.

When interviewing with Jake Oliver, publisher for the Afro-American Newspaper, and his staff to become the first environmental columnist in the publication’s 125th year of publishing, I knew without a shadow of doubt that AFRO readers would welcome action on current environmental issues that affect our community.

Just last week, president-elect Trump’s transition team announced Attorney General Scott Pruitt, of the oil- and gas-intensive state of Oklahoma, as his nominee to head up and likely dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, the government arm that protects the environment and communities from environmental offenders that pollute waterways, soil and air for profit. Flint, Mich., is an example: where an entire urban community was poisoned intentionally with lead, all for profit of a soda company.  If you think in the slightness that the Flint tragedy can’t happen again, you are surely mistaken and misinformed.

As African Americans, it is time for all of us to be shareholders in preserving the air we breathe, the water that we drink and the foods we eat.  No longer can we as people of color rely on the White-affluent environmentalist to speak for us on environmental issues that are plaguing, killing and disabling our urban communities.

President-elect Donald Trump’s message is very clear on the environment, urban communities and tribal preserved land: “We’ll be fine on the environment…we can save a little, but you can’t destroy business.”  What Trump is saying is, “It’s OK to pollute, contaminate and destroy the environment and American people for big business.” He could care less for the millions of people, animals, plant life, water, air and soil that will be harmed and destroyed for corporate profit and greed.

That should send chills up your spine because you as an organic being reading this article ARE THE ENVIRONMENT. Now is the time for all African Americans and people of color to rise up against environmental injustices in our communities; use your voice, learn how to plant, create sustainable environmental expertise that protects the Earth from harm.

In my column moving forward, I will inform you of current environmental news, issues and provide resources for you the reader with a call-to-action to become a stakeholder in creating your individual environmental movement.

So, let’s get started, darling!  First order of business: e-mail me at [email protected] and share with me how you want to get active on environmental issues; ask me a question, share some good news about your garden, your environmental or sustainable business, what you or your community, church, group, business and neighborhood is doing environmentally.  I ask that you keep inquiries positive and uplifting with solutions; no rants, respectfully.

Cathy Allen is an award-winning urban environmentalist, the co-creator of G.R.A.S.S. (Growing Resources After Sowing Seed) as well as chair of the “Grow It! Eat It!” campaign. G.R.A.S.S. is an environmental entrepreneurial nonprofit program based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology. In conjunction with Baltimore City Public Schools, Allen’s campaign has planted over a half-million trees on the lawns of Baltimore City public schools. She can be reached at [email protected].