Climate change and racial justice are much more connected than the average person thinks. On the surface, they seem like unrelated issues, but over the last year or so, I have learned how deeply connected their history, problems, and solutions are.
A great way to look at how these two crises intertwine is to look at industrialization. Industrialization used slaves to bring the industrialization of cotton production to America. This placed black communities right in the heart of pollution and poverty from the start. Even after slavery, these communities became surrounded by chemical industries and factories causing terrible air quality. As a long-term effect, Black people and other people of color have disproportionately higher rates of asthma and upper respiratory problems than white people. Slavery also caused population growth and industry growth. With growth came deforestation, disruption of water systems, and general growth that also contributed to the start of climate change.
Another interesting intersection is climate disasters. Communities of color are at much higher risk for destruction by a climate disaster than other communities. This was prevalent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Government funding was disproportionately distributed to wealthier communities and thus, more resources for massive flooding were in place there.
Economics shows the deep-rooted connection between these two crises and we must work as a community to do better. If you want to learn more or get involved, Climate Justice Alliance has great resources and we will also keep you updated here on the education page!