‘Racial Justice is Local weather Justice’: Hip Hop Caucus CEO Emphasizes Environmental Justice at March on Washington

Because the solar moved greater within the sky, beating down on the shadeless house in entrance of the Lincoln Memorial, audio system on the Sixtieth-anniversary celebration of the March on Washington repeatedly commented on the warmth. 

“It’s scorching!” mentioned award-winning TV host Nick Cannon. “I didn’t get the memo — I drove up from the South in all leather-based, so that you ain’t gonna need to play the music on me, I would move out earlier than this minute and a half goes up.” 

Cannon, like most different audio system who remarked upon the climate, didn’t point out that this previous month was D.C.’s Fifteenth-hottest July ever recorded, or that a lot of the U.S. — together with the South — has seen quite a few warmth information damaged this summer season.  

Whereas local weather change isn’t on the forefront of ideas at civil rights marches, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus, informed The Informer that should change. 

“We should join the dots and break the silos,” Yearwood mentioned throughout his remarks on the March. “Racial justice is local weather justice. And local weather justice is racial justice.”

Local weather change impacts — from excessive warmth to fossil fuel-related air air pollution to storm injury — hit Black, brown and Indigenous communities “first and worst” within the U.S. and internationally. 

The day after talking at this 12 months’s March on Washington, Yearwood mentioned in a later interview, he traveled house to Louisiana, the place he helped lead a commemoration for many who died or have been displaced in Hurricane Katrina, together with a few of his personal family and friends. It was the most popular day ever recorded in New Orleans.

“We have been there on the levees, on the breach,” Yearwood mentioned. “Right here we’re remembering these actually who misplaced their lives 18 years in the past, however we’re additionally preventing the local weather disaster earlier than us — in a spot, New Orleans, that has by no means been 105 levels [before].” 

Local weather justice has clear hyperlinks to different important points raised on the march. For instance: excessive warmth poses a significant menace to many in working-class jobs, from farmworkers to warehouse workers. Labor organizers have acknowledged the menace — the truth is, UPS staff made excessive warmth security measures a key demand of their strike earlier this summer season, which final week ended with a contract that included air con necessities for brand new vans. 

Yearwood mentioned that the local weather justice dialog “hyperlinks to” conversations round well being justice, financial justice, felony justice and academic justice. And he identified that it goes each methods, too. 

“​​We are able to’t cease the proliferation of fossil fuels and petrochemicals and curb local weather change with out additionally restoring voting rights, or together with well being rights or queer justice or different points — I feel we now have to see it as an intersectional environmental second,” he mentioned. 

However the local weather justice dialog doesn’t at all times get excessive sufficient precedence throughout the wider civil rights group, Yearwood mentioned. At this 12 months’s Sixtieth anniversary March on Washington, he was the one speaker invited to particularly handle local weather and environmental justice. His two-minute time slot got here between 8 and eight:30 a.m., earlier than a lot of the gang had gathered.

Yearwood used these two minutes to name out “organizations and politicians who’ve mentioned that local weather change is a hoax” and talk about the connections between local weather justice and “voter suppression and healthcare and schooling.” 

He additionally known as for an finish to fossil gas and petrochemical growth, a ban on the poisonous chemical vinyl chloride and an emergency declaration on local weather from the Biden administration.

“Two minutes for local weather is all I needed to get all that in,” he mentioned later, with amusing. “And there’s a lot extra we want — we want way more than two minutes on local weather.”