A Commitment To Environmental Justice: Why Black Communities Deserve A Fair And Inclusive Agenda
We have a narrow window to address the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
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Co-written by Pete Maysmith
Last month, Black voters turned out for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in unprecedented numbers because they know the United States stands on the brink of disaster. President-elect Biden aptly named the four crises facing our nation: coronavirus, economic recession, structural racism and climate change. Across all four, Black people continue to face the worst effects. These communities decided this election, the Biden-Harris Administration must listen to Black voters’ demands and deliver meaningful solutions to these crises.
BlackPAC and LCV Victory Fund, along with many other allies, reached out to millions of Black voters across the country. We helped educate voters about the candidates, their plans for Black communities and how they could make their voices heard in some of our nation’s most challenging elections. We also took time to listen and hear what motivated Black communities to vote.
They demanded leaders who were ready to act against racism in all its forms. One place this new cabinet can immediately start is environmental justice.
Polls show that Black voters are deeply concerned about climate change and the environment because they have felt the worst effects of pollution. The demands are clear, but we need this administration to act on day one.
In our conversations with Black voters, it was clear they were primed to cast their ballots to defeat not only Trump himself, but Trumpism in all its forms. They voted to replace the politics of fear and division with competent moral leadership. Now we need a fair and inclusive agenda that lifts all communities.
President-elect Biden has already started on the right foot. Creating new international and domestic climate cabinet positions show real progress. A full-government approach is exactly what we need, and this administration must continue to think bigger than any before. Communities of color have lived with our worst pollution for decades, brought on by years of racist policies. We all deserve to live in healthy safe neighborhoods with clean air and clean water. Now that key positions across the cabinet have been nominated, every relevant agency must show they are committed to environmental justice.
Black voters were as motivated as ever to cast their ballots. But they overcame difficult challenges to vote. Misinformation, racist voter ID laws and gerrymandering that a federal judge said “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” We reached out to millions of voters directly and helped educate them on how to vote in an unprecedented year. But these problems are not going away. We know dire issues like the climate crisis can only be solved with a healthy democracy. This administration must also enact serious democratic reforms to ensure voters can always make their voices heard.
We have a narrow window to address the greatest challenge we have ever faced. Our future depends on how we will fight the climate crisis in the next ten years. Voters are demanding action and we have the tools to solve it, but we need these new leaders to act.
We came together this election to face a challenge like we had never seen, and we won. But to undo the underlying systemic roots that led us here we cannot let the bonds we formed break.
So many of us built new partnerships in 2020. Together we can deliver the democracy we know we deserve and respond to the demands of Black voters, especially on issues like environment justice. We must continue to fight like our lives are still on the line because they are.
Black communities fought to restore moral, thoughtful, pro-environment leadership in our government. Together we must ensure that the new administration delivers on this mandate.
Adrianne Shropshire is executive director of BlackPAC and the affiliated nonpartisan Black Progressive Action Coalition.
Pete Maysmith is Senior Vice President of Campaigns for LCV Victory Fund.