Black Lives Matter In The Environmental Movement

Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

C.S. Sherin, July 28, 2020, updated July 29, 2020

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Intersectional Environmentalism

In case you missed it, GreenGirlLeah (Leah Thomas) on Instagram officially coined a phrase that is much needed in the Eco/Sustainability/Green movement, and that term is Intersectional Environmentalism. Leah Thomas is speaking from a depth of knowing and expertise as an environmentalist, about the importance of seeing the interconnectedness of racial justice and environmental justice.

There are many of us who have always stood by the fact that issues of human rights, racism, and other forms of discrimination are an integral understanding related to needed action and responses to our environmental movements and crises. At the same time, this understanding has often been rejected by major players in the movement.

For those of you who have read my book that this site is based on (Recipe For A Green Life), you know that I did integrate issues of human rights and activism in the book, particularly focusing on activism, and how Native Americans and Indigenous peoples around the world are endangered, violated, and murdered for standing up to protect resources and the environment. Overall, the most vulnerable and chronically and historically discriminated against in our society are the first to suffer from these crises.

While I spoke in general terms, in the book, about how the poor and marginalized in our society are the most vulnerable and lost in the movement, I didn’t particularly name or address specifically how important Black (and people of color) issues, voices, and needs are in relation to the environmental movement. So, I want to provide some resources for that need now.

Leah Thomas became more recognized in the midst of the protests against police brutality that began during this pandemic. However, it was the murder of Michael Brown by police, and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that helped Thomas to fully integrate her wisdom into her passion for environmentalism. Green Girl Leah’s wisdom and expertise has thankfully been lifted to greater visibility. Please check out her IG account, and her new website — an inspiring, diverse, inclusive collaboration, called Intersectional Environmentalism. This site has also been added to our Resources page.

It was a joy to discover Leah on IG and to read the eloquent and essential expressions of inclusion and holistic awareness in her posts during this time of upheaval, new awareness, and growth — as protests all across the US and around the world erupted and still go on in response to the police murder of George Floyd.


We still await justice for so many, including Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain.


I highly recommend some interviews and articles by Leah, which are well worth your time:

Environmental Justice And Racial Justice Are Interlinked

Another inspiring Black woman whose voice and work are so needed in the environmental movement is Marine Biologist working for Environmental and Racial Justice, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (AyanaEliza on IG). You can also find her on her website, AyanaElizabeth.com.

Here are some articles by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth that I highly recommend:

Anti-Racism

At the beginning of June I wrote a resource-laden piece related to the protests against police violence and the murder of George Floyd by police. Here is a link. It is an article that is meant as a helpful resource for White people specifically.

Since we are all born into systemic racism, it is an ongoing and daily process of unlearning and becoming aware of unconscious, spoken and unspoken systemic racism that has been embedded in our collective and personal conditioning as people in this society. Even if we have been dedicated to racial justice and inclusivity and diversity our whole lives, even if we continue to educate and practice anti-racism, we will find that there is more work to be done and undone.

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