Whether Red, Yellow, Brown, Black or White, we are all precious in God's sight. God is Green. All people deserve to live in Green clean-air communities. If not, people on planet earth will die.
In 2002, The Black Leadership Forum (BLF) issued a report entitled, "Air of Injustice: African-Americans & Power Plant Pollution" which chronicled how coal-fired power plants affect Black Americans by releasing chemicals to in the air and waterways. The report revealed that 68 percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant; and 71 percent of Black people live in counties that violate federal air pollution standards. "Air of Injustice" revealed the relationship between power plant pollutants such as mercury, sulfur, dioxide and environmental health issues in the Black community, among them asthma and high infant death rates.
While the Black Leadership Forum (BLF) addresses issues impacting the Black community including first-class jails and second-class schools, unaffordable housing/predatory lending, voter disenfranchisement, and inadequate health care, environmental issues facing communities of color are a priority. The race to address Green issues in urban America is critical.
The environmental injustice of toxic air, water, and soil is literally killing Black people in urban America. In short, too much pollution is affecting too many Black people, with too few alternatives.
For example, in Black communities in New York City such as Harlem, central-Brooklyn, and the South Bronx serve as tragic examples where the asthma rate among school-aged children is nearly four times the U.S. average. The dangerously high asthma rate is in part linked to the location of gas and oil fired power plants that produce harmful pollutants. We as a nation must go green or die.
While the debate over clean energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear continues, one fact is clear: the current process for coal-fired energy plants must change.
Black Leadership Forum is working with organizations like Safe Healthy Affordable and Reliable Energy (SHARE), a non-profit clean energy advocacy organization. SHARE's mission includes conducting important clean energy discussions in schools, churches, tenant associations and senior citizen centers. Together, our goal is to elevate environmental issues to the forefront of the urban agenda.
America must change its approach to exploring and developing clean energy sources. As it does, investing in clean energy would lead to the creation of jobs with livable wages, particularly in communities of color. A Green urban agenda put forth by the federal, state, and local government helps to radically reduce unemployment and underemployment for many Black and Brown people.
The math is simple: with a potential of trillions of dollars directed toward the Greening of America, such monies should help the people most affected by pollutants.
Gary L. Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.