Reality Check | ecoWURD | radio
Environmental justice advocate Tamara Toles O’Laughlin joined ecoWURD on Reality Check with Charles Ellison to discuss the progress of climate justice policy implementation, where that is these days and to gauge whether environmental justice is turning a new corner. She also talked about the enormous presence of young Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the environmental justice movement.
“Yes, we have to care about the EPA, but we really need to make it better. What we had wasn’t great for our community, and tons of people will tell you that they weren’t being served by who was there,” said Toles-O’Laughlin. “Our community shouldn’t just be concerned about how things look, or the diversity or the optics, we need equity and institutions showing up with investments. Black people are more protective of our vulnerable – so, we don’t like to put our young people and elder people out front. Our work is more intergenerational.
“Young people, Gen Z, see environmental justice as one continuum, they’re looking for liberation,” Toles-O’Laughlin continued. “The older generation were structured in silos because they were structurally barred from being able to show up in those places. And young folks are like ‘we will not be respecting it or responding to it.’ Still, the elder folks who worked in those silos know the systems and the young people will just run right over them. I think that’s good, we need that.”
According to a recent Pew Research study, Gen Z and Millennials are much more active, online and offline, in environmental and climate justice work.
In fact, a greater share of Black (68 percent) and Latino (55 percent) adults argue for more prioritization of lower-income communities when crafting climate response policy – across the board on the income scale, middle-to-upper income Black adults and lower income adults feel the same way in higher numbers. That’s compared to under 40 percent of White adults who feel the same way.