Easter marked the 41st Anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day was celebrated for the first time on April 22, 1970. In that inaugural year, 20 million people participated in the United States. Today, it is projected that more than 1 billion people in 180 countries celebrate Earth Day.
Coloring the Green Movement
Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with messages about the environment and global warming. Haven’t you heard these messages? Eco-friendly, greenhouse gas reduction, carbon footprint … You might even have heard that by using less energy, conserving, and recycling that you can save money while saving the planet. As individuals you now may be questioning the foods you eat – where it comes from, and how it impacts our health.
Communities of color and other low-income communities are typically “greener” than wealthier communities because of lower consumption of fossil fuel and other energy sources, manufactured goods and products, and food items. In fact in communities of color, individuals of all ages are more likely to use public transportation or carpool than to drive and own their own vehicles. (Not that we wouldn’t want to own an electric or hybrid car but pricing is a deterrent.)
Are you aware of conservative “right wing” attacks on immigrants using an environmental framework to restrict immigration, eliminate welfare and basic services, and place blame for the world’s diminishing resources? Anti-immigrant groups led by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) masquerade as environmental stewards, push for zero population growth and oppose domestic immigration from Asia and Latin America. They claim that immigrants harm the environment by contributing to urban sprawl, congestion, pollution, waste generation, water consumption, land conversion and loss of biodiversity.
Why should we get involved?
Climate change will destroy our way of life and our planet unless we all get involved. Right here in our community the solutions to climate change will bring economic opportunity and jobs and create healthier living through organic foods, energy savings in your home and transportation alternatives. But who has access to these jobs and services is the challenge facing communities of color? How will our voices be heard to insure the intentional outreach to involve low-income individuals and their families? Environmentalism and the Green Movement continue to grow but communities of color including immigrant communities must play an active leadership role as an equal partner.
In Seattle, a city recognized for its leadership and eco-friendly policies aimed at making our city and our way of life sustainable and earth friendly we have a window of opportunity to work with government and private sector leaders to shape the way the solutions to global warming impact and improve our lives – healthy foods, healthy homes, improved access to public transportation, and quality jobs.
One viable organizing group is Got Green—a grassroots group led by young adults and people of color that promotes the movement for green collar jobs as the best way to fight poverty and global warming at the same time.
Got Green believes that if we are to transform our entire society into one that reduces our carbon footprint – while increasing sustainability – messaging and methods will have to be developed to reach underserved communities – particularly communities of color and lowincome communities. Who better to craft and frame these messages than members of these communities themselves? At the same time, low-income families will need to directly benefit from the new green economy – through equal access to good jobs and healthy products – in order to become fully invested in it.
To learn more about Got Green visit