Yet the face of the environmental movement is a white one.

That status quo ignores the realities of environmental racism and the long years that black communities have spent working against it. It assumes that everyone faces the same level of harm when it comes to environmental issues, and that a ‘one size fits all’ solution will produce equitable solutions for everyone.
environmental justice for black people
Photo: Art by Tarah Douglas,

Black people have long been left exposed and vulnerable to pollution and other environmental hazards due to racial oppression and discrimination, which constrains their social mobility, political power and economic opportunity. Black children suffer disproportionately from asthma and are seven to eight times more likely to die of asthma than white children. Communities of color face nearly 40 percent more exposure to toxic air pollution than white communities due to housing discrimination and lax environmental protections. Environmental racism continues to place minorities in close proximity to pollution and other environmental hazards. At a time when global challenges like climate change loom large on the horizon, it’s necessary to include a plurality of voices and a diversity of perspectives. Solutions must portray, elevate and focus attention on the most vulnerable, not only to prevent future instability, but to rectify past injustices and present inequities.

But we can’t just rely on portrayals created by others. Black folks deserve our own.

With this in mind, commissioned eight artists of color from all across the United States to create depictions of what the future could look like for black communities. Utilizing diverse styles and vibrant imagery, these artists have created works that juxtapose possibilities of a brighter, more sustainable future with portrayals of dystopias where social ills and inequities remain entrenched. Each piece draws on the experiences and insights of the artists, as well as their hopes and dreams for what the future could hold. From literature to music to dance, art has always been a catalyst for social progress for black communities. The Future of Equality art project aims to spark change in the movement for environmental justice, bringing the voices of black folk to the forefront and ensuring that sustainable futures are also equitable ones.

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Photo: Art by Manzel Bowman,

For more than 10 years, has been dedicated to fighting racism, sexism, bigotry, inequality and injustice at every level of society. Now we’re going to bring that same fervor to the environmental justice movement.  We won’t stop until black communities and other communities of color are centered as we all fight to create a healthier, more sustainable world. is the nation’s largest Black, online civil rights organization. Sign up and join more than 1 million members in the movement for justice. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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