2018 began a worldwide fight for climate and environmental justice as Greta Thunberg made waves with her actions and voice. The fight for racial justice has been decades long, but 2020 birthed a mainstream fight for racial justice as anger and sadness over countless unjust deaths boiled over and forced itself to be seen, heard and felt by all. 

By most, these movements are seen as separate entities with separate goals and fights ­­­— but they’re not. Most, if not all, aspects of climate change impact people of color and low-income communities.

By destroying our planet, we are directly harming communities of color and furthering the discrimination they face. Countless studies prove this.

One finds that even though Black and Hispanic communities produce less pollution, they are the ones who are exposed to more air pollution than white Americans. Another study points out that rising sea levels threaten coastal communities in the South the most — communities that are primarily Black.

Not only does climate change negatively impact low-income and communities of color, but discriminatory policies such as redlining put these communities in high risk areas that are worsening due to climate change. It’s proven that redlined areas have more pavement and less green space causing the temperatures there to be higher. As average temperatures across the country rise due to global warming, these communities face even more dangerous temperatures. 

Climate change was never just about the polar bears and turtles. It has always been a racial justice issue. We need to treat it like one. Give these communities a louder voice and make more space for people of color in the fight. They know much more about the dangers of climate change than we do.

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