Honoring Black Environmental Leadership

It’s Black History Month, and we want to acknowledge and celebrate the many ways Black activists, visionaries, communities, families, and youth leaders have made a powerful difference in the environmental movement in Oregon and around the world. OEC is proud to work alongside and in support of partners like NAACP-Eugene, Coalition of Communities of Color, Albina Vision Trust and other Black-led organizations who ensure environmental, racial, and social justice for communities throughout Oregon.

It’s no secret that the systems that lead to ecological decline and climate pollution are the same ones that cause racial harm and impacts on Black communities. And yet, many people in the U.S. still don’t register an understanding about racial and environmental disparities. Recent polling by Data for Progress shows that 44 percent of voters don’t believe that communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change, compared to 40 percent who do. That’s why we will continue to share – and act upon – information about disparate impacts. 

Environmental work isn’t done until environmental solutions work for everyone. We must aim to dismantle racism and defeat racist social and economic policies that create and perpetuate harm to Black communities and people of color. And it cannot wait. That’s why we’re taking action now. 

For example, we’re fighting to keep toxic chemicals out of personal care products disproportionately targeted toward Black women and other women of color. We’re pushing for climate and transportation policies that will improve air quality near neighborhoods that experience the worst health impacts from air pollution. And we are celebrating passage of the Environmental Justice for All bill that will help embed BIPOC voices in statewide decision-making. 

It will take all of us working side-by-side to solve our most pressing environmental challenges. Black leadership and Black voices are essential to the work that lies ahead and have been a vital part of successes won thus far. We honor and are grateful for that leadership.

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