I, Addie, believe that diversity in sustainability is what will lead to solutions that benefit so many people across our nation, and worldwide.
“Diversity in the world is a basic characteristic of human society, and also the key condition for a lively and dynamic world as we see today.”
— Jintao Hu
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”
Diversity in Sustainability
There is a post that has been brewing in my soul for a while, but recent conversations concerning R&B artist SZA, a black, African-American woman, starting a possibly not so sustainable clothing line that promotes sustainability (read more about that from my friend at A Green & Rosie Life) has given me the fuel I need to conquer it. On SZA’s posts, and on similar posts by big media outlets that have black people as their target demographic, I keep seeing 3 types of comments.
- I’m sitting in the small minority yelling into the stratosphere, “I don’t think this is sustainable at all! Let’s hold her accountable!”
- The vast majority is like, “yaaaaassss, environmental queen,” and I’m rolling my eyes so hard they’re about to pop out of my head LOL. Is it sustainable, y’all? Or is it just cute fast fashion with the world “sustainability” embroidered on it? But I digress.
- And then there’s this crowd… “can we save black people first?” Lord, if I thought I was rolling my eyes before, I feel like I’ve strained them from rolling them so hard at this ignorance. I seriously love the crowd of people going in on (telling off/correcting/spreading knowledge to) commenters like these, as well.
This is what we not gon’ do.
We’re not gonna act like the ignorant racists that we despise, and proclaim what’s “not for us.” Nah, everything is for us, so don’t try to dull my shine because you’ve put yourself in a “black people don’t do that” box. Also – I hate lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer, but I’m not going to show up to the colon cancer fundraiser and get mad because they’re not raising funds for breast cancer. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!
Seriously, y’all. Some ignoramus had the audacity to tell me that I shouldn’t care about the environment. He said I should care about black people (like I can’t do both), and that my opinion didn’t count because I’m married to a white man. This fool said I’m obviously lost because I gave up on black men. Like I can’t marry for love. In the words of the legendary Fred Sanford… “You big dummy!” I would have cursed him out, except he started his statement with that trash line, so I didn’t even read the rest of the comment, which was so long that the had to comment twice. I called him out in my IG stories for being hateful towards me. I called him out again when I realized he was watching my stories. Creep. He has since blocked me, which is a pity, because he could learn a thing or two about being sustainable.
You can be mad about a whole lot of shit at once. You can fight for multiple causes at the same time. But hating on other people for fighting for a good cause is a misdirected waste of energy.
I Got 5 on it
Here are 5 reasons why sustaining the earth is an “everybody” situation.
1) It’s Not A “White Woman’s Issue”
The future of our earth’s health can not rest on a select few. The same way we say that it isn’t just a black person’s job to get rid of racism (and some even say it’s not our job at all, but we have been working for decades to get the job done), keep that same energy when it comes to preserving what resources we have. Also, grow up. Stop saying “you act white” and “you’re not black if you do that.” That shit is just dumb. I’m human and I can do what the hell I want to. Folks get on my nerves with that. Black folks out here trying to contribute to make the world a better place, but you want to stereotype us worse than people who actually want to see us fail. Get it together.
Yea, it seems like everything that is sustainable is marketed towards well-to-do white women, but that’s changing. That’s why my blog exists. I want my voice to be heard as a black woman who is passionate about the environment, and so I made it happen. I’ll keep making it happen, and I’m ecstatic to see so many other people that don’t look like the stereotypical “green goddess” doing the same.
2) The Land Was IMPORTANT to Our Ancestors (& Still Is Important to Black People)
Black people have worked the land all over this world, and have shed their blood to keep it thriving. Picking cotton, growing food, building the White House. So much in the world wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for black people creating, cultivating, or maintaining it. We’ve taken lemons, and made lemonade. Hell, we’ve taken shitty pig intestines and made a cultural delicacy – chitterlings! Sidenote: I don’t eat it based on the smell, but I did taste them once and I won’t lie and say I hated it LOL! But somebody you know loves chitterlings. Our ancestors did that so that we could live to fight, to dream, and to breathe another day. Y’all ain’t gonna be breathing if all of the air is polluted. Let’s just keep it real. If you still don’t care, keep reading.
In this section, I am referring to “natural living” more than “sustainability.” They often get lumped together in my posts, so I wanted to be sure that I clarify. I believe that to live sustainably means to live a more natural life, and to use less chemicals, as well.
You probably know someone who died from cancer. My mother died from cancer when I was 4 and my paternal grandmother, whom I was named after, died from cancer when I was 20, after fighting it, off and on, and in different forms, for what seems like most of my life. I’m honestly tired of wearing RIP shirts with the face of someone I love who died from cancer.
I’m not gonna sit up here and be like, “that damn deodorant with aluminum did it!” Nah. Smoking – carcinogens. Aluminum in deodorant – carcinogens. Heavy perfumes with fake fragrances – carcinogens. Toxins in the air after the city truck with the mosquito sprays every street in town – carcinogens. Fate? Hell I don’t know!
What I do know that a lot of the stuff we buy brings with it horrible side effects. In the process to make these clothes, houses, cars, perfumes, plastics – pollution is spread. When we put them on our body, we level up the chances for this killer to strike. Let these facts sink in when you think that caring about the environment, what we do to it and take from it, and how we then apply it to our bodies:
- “Black men have the highest cancer death rate of any racial/ethnic group in the US.” (source)
- “African Americans make up 14% of the U.S. population…” but contribute to “more than 50% of the overall spending in key product categories.” (source)
- “The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil,” (source) (more info via World Resources Institute)
4) Environmental Justice
Ferguson still has poisonous water. Food deserts exist in poorer minority neighborhoods more often than not. Black and brown children are more like to suffer the effects of being surrounded by toxic air that causes several childhood health problems that carry on into their adult years than their peers. After natural disasters, people with no savings and who were living paycheck to paycheck typically can’t just pick up and leave. Some choose to stay because it’s all they’ve ever known. Environmental injustices impact black people so much, so it’s more than a “fight for black people” problem. You can’t fight for black people without fighting for the sustainability and environmental justice. It’s a problem that requires special attention to the earth, how we treat it, and how knowledgeable all people, regardless of race, are about these issues.
5) No Earth = No Black People to Fight For
Does this even need an explanation? If we use up all of our resources, pollute all of our fresh water, and kill what keeps us alive on this earth, race issues won’t even matter anymore.
Remember these things:
- We can all fight to bring awareness to more than one issue at a time.
- This is why voting in ALL ELECTIONS matter. This is why knowing who you’re voting for matters. This is why calling your representatives who WORK FOR YOU matters.
- “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” – Don’t turn that rage on other people who are working for the good of us all. I respect people who specialize in a battle and educate the rest of us on how to best win. Let’s keep educating each other, and bring true diversity to sustainability!
My black is beautiful, and so is my drive to be green.