Reality Check | WURD radio Special to ecoWURD
Mustafa Ali, recently picked as the new Vice President of Environmental Justice at the National Wildlife Federation, talked with Charles Ellison, host of WURD’s Reality Check, about the urgent need for more diversity, or more Black and Brown leadership, in the environmental advocacy movement. Most major environmental organizations still have a problem with appointing “people of color” into senior or leadership positions, despite the disproportionate impact of environmental problems on under-served, under-advantaged communities. Ali cites the recent Green 2.0 report as a point of reference. Much hasn’t changed.
“The NWF, for example, made a decision in hiring me to be a more 21st century organization and to focus more on diversity and social justice movements,” said Ali. “Thirty years ago, leaders in the environmental justice movement, faith-based movement and others had sent letters to the so-called ‘Big Green’ organizations at that time and talked about the lack of opportunity for African Americans, Latinos and Indigenous brothers and sisters at that time. Thirty years later, there are still no African Americans and Latinos who are leading in that space.”
“Unfortunately, the trend has been moving in the wrong direction. There’s a lack of diversity in all the leading organizations. We took a look at the foundations and the Big Green organizations and still found a lack of diversity. We hoped for a change, especially with these organizations calling themselves progressive. They have been hiring more diverse people in recent years, however, and their boards are starting to become more diverse. We have to keep pushing beyond that.”