Until [Environmental] Justice…Just Is.

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Until [Environmental] Justice…Just Is.

Categories: News

UNTIL [ENVIRONMENTAL] JUSTICE…JUST IS.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is excited to be a part of the Until Justice…Just Is campaign. Join us as we cover a different topic each month to explore some of many areas in which true justice is needed, and what we can do to achieve equity in our community and our country until justice…just is.

This month, we believe it is a right to live, learn, and work in a safe environment. Join us in reading and learning about how to create environmental justice for all people. Until environmental justice…just is.


WE ADVOCATE FOR: ELIMINATING ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM

PART I: TOXIC EXPOSURE

The Problem

  • Historically, race has been a stronger predictor of the level of commercial hazardous waste activity in an area than income, occupation, or any other factor. This includes:
    • Chemical and solid waste treatment, storage, and disposal
    • Air pollutants
    • Sewage
    • Poisonous building materials
  • Systemic racism, residential segregation, and violation of Indigenous treaties continues to confine communities of color to areas most susceptible to toxic exposure.
    • Including homes, schools, public places, and workplaces in these communities.
  • These inequities drive health disparities in communities of color such as higher rates of infant mortality, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lead poisoning, and certain cancers.

The Solution

  • Acknowledging race as the primary predictor of potential toxic exposure, then centering of race in discussions around policy and practice.
  • Widespread safe residential, educational, and occupational locations free from poisonous building materials and positioned a safe distance from any hazardous waste activity.
  • Adopting federal standards to determine and ensure safety.
  • Accessible, continued healthcare to address previous exposure and ensure safety of identified standards.
  • Policy and practice changes and proper reparations identified by communities affected.

Where We Stand

YWCA Greater Cleveland believes that all people have a right to safe and stable residential, educational, and occupational locations.

Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan emphasizes our goal to urgently ensure the health and safety of all women and girls of color, which includes the immediate need for all people to live, learn, and work free from any possible toxic exposure.

As we stand in solidarity with the fight for eliminating toxic exposure, YWCA Greater Cleveland’s programming continues to function in response to community needs:

Guests are ensured safe and secure housing at Cogswell Hall, Norma Herr Women’s Center, and Independence Place. 

This commitment to safety then continues upon leaving these locations for permanent housing.

WE ADVOCATE FOR: ELIMINATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM 

PT II: WATER

The Problem

  • A 2019 study confirmed unequal access to safe drinking water is most strongly based on race than any other factor.
  • Systemic racism, residential segregation, and community disinvestment all contribute to lack of adherence to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in water systems in communities of color.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act has historically adjusted regulations to accept community water systems proven to be unsafe.
    • Exposes community of colors to health issues such as lead poisoning and bacterial, viral, parasitic, and infectious illnesses and diseases.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act does not regulate private well water systems, present in many communities across the country.
  • Violation of Indigenous lands leaves communities consistently susceptible to waterborne toxins.

The Solution

  • Make important adjustments to Safe Water Drinking Act:
    • Regulations to fully protect the health and safety of all people.
    • Widespread adherence to regulations, regardless of area or private ownership.
  • Accessible, continued healthcare to address previous exposure to unsafe drinking water and to ensure safety of identified standards.
  • Acknowledge race as the primary indicator of potential unsafe water systems and centering voices of communities of color in identifying additional changes.
    • Policy and practice changes and proper reparations identified by communities affected.

Where We Stand

Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan emphasizes our goal to ensure the health and safety of all women and girls of color. We believe that clean drinking water is an integral part of that right.

As we stand in solidarity with those working to ensure safe drinking water for all, YWCA Greater Cleveland’s programming continues to function in response to community needs:

  • Supportive services at Norma Herr Women’s Center, Cogswell Hall, and Independence Place facilities and the Early Learning Center.
  • Informational programming such as the 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge and Go LIVE for Equity.
  • Events to empower women creating change in the community, such as Women of Achievement Awards ceremony.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to centering the voices of people of color in all areas of the organization.

WE ADVOCATE FOR: THE ELIMINATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM

PART III: CLIMATE CHANGE

The Problem

  • Although all people suffer the effects of climate change, systemic racism, and residential segregation combine to create disproportionate circumstances for communities of color.
  • Climate change causes increasing number of natural disasters, which disproportionately affected communities of color.
    • People of color have historically been confined to areas susceptible to an increased number natural disasters, due to effects of climate change.
    • Communities of color have been systemically underinvested, leaving residents to rebuild with very few resources, if any.
  • Climate change creates circumstances that negatively combine with many previous health issues. Healthcare disparities cause communities of color to experience these at a much higher rate (see Until [Health] Justice…Just Is).

The Solution

  • Urgent address of the contributing sources and current effects of climate change.
  • Acknowledge communities of color as highest risk for negative effects of climate change and protect residents appropriately.
  • Center voices of those affected in creation of proper regulations to ensure safe living situations for all residents.
  • Financial and resource investment into communities negatively affected by natural disaster and toxic exposure to rebuild and prevent.
  • Accessible, continued healthcare to address previous exposure to the negative effects of climate change.

Where We Stand

Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan emphasizes our goal to ensure the health and safety of all women and girls of color. We believe that addressing the causes and effects of climate change is an integral part of that right.

As we stand in solidarity with those working to address climate change around the world, YWCA Greater Cleveland’s programming continues to function in response to community needs:

  • Independence Place & NIA connect residents with quality healthcare.
  • Supportive services at Norma Herr Women’s Center and Cogswell Hall work to ensure accessible healthcare to all guests.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to centering the voices of people of color in all areas of of the organization.

WE ADVOCATE FOR: RACE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

The Problem

  • The Environmental Justice Movement is rooted in the social justice movements of Black and Indigenous populations to address environmental inequities in their communities, however their voices have been erased from today’s mainstream environmental movement.
  • The lack of diversity in today’s mainstream environmental justice movement causes the needs of Black and brown communities to be ignored and neglected, even though environmental racism and injustice affects them disproportionately.
  • The lack of diversity in today’s mainstream environmental justice movement contributes to a common misconception that people of color do not care about the environment and willingly contribute to issues surrounding climate change.

The Solution

  • Acknowledging that communities of color sparked the Environmental Justice Movement by centering Black and brown voices and needs in policy and practice changes in areas such as climate change and sustainability.
  • Creating and adhering to environmental regulations to fully protect the health and safety of all people.
  • Addressing health concerns created by lack of environmental justice, with a focus on communities of color.

Where We Stand

YWCA Greater Cleveland believes in the urgent need for the health and safety of all people, and that centering voices of people of color is integral to ensuring this.

Our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan emphasizes our goal of dismantling racism through the lens of racism as a public health crisis. The effects of environmental racism on communities of color demonstrates the reality of racism as a public health crisis.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is committed to creating programming (like the 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge) to address issues and present potential means for change in areas such as environmental racism that center the voices of communities of color.

HOW ARE MEANINGFUL CHANGES MADE IN OUR COMMUNITY?

Urgent address of contributing sources and current effects of climate change and environmental racism.

Center Black and brown voices and needs in policy and practice changes in areas such as climate change and sustainability.

Widespread standards identified by communities of color to ensure safe residential, educational, and occupational locations.

Financial and resource investment into communities negatively affected by effects of climate change, toxic exposure, etc.

Accessible, continued healthcare to address previous exposure to the negative effects of climate change.

SOURCES

The Environmental Justice Movement Is Rooted In Black History, 350.org
History of Environmental Justice, University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability
The Environmental Justice Movement, NRDC.
Environmental Justice at the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency.
Lead Poisoning Reveals Environmental Racism in the U.S., Eco Watch.
Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Perpetual Environmental Justice Issue?, National Library of Medicine
Environmental Health Disparities: A Framework Integrating Psychosocial and Environmental Concepts, Environmental Health Perspectives
Health, Equity, and the Built Environment, Environmental Health Perspectives
Race, Wealth, and Solid Waste Facilities
Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities in Cancer Risk from Air Toxics
2020-2025 Strategic Plan, YWCA Greater Cleveland
Report on the Environment: Drinking Water, United State Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental justice and drinking water quality: are there socioeconomic disparities in nitrate levels in U.S. drinking water, Biomedical Center
Clean Water and the Environmental Justice Movement, Shared Justice
Environmental racism and the need for private well protections, U.S. National Library of Medicine
New Drinking Water Report: Communities of Color More Likely to Suffer Drinking Water Violations For Years, Natural Resources Defense Council
How Environmental Racism Affects Indigenous Communities in the the USA, Wear Your Voice
Strategies to Improve Private-Well Water Quality: A North Carolina Perspective, Environmental Health Perspectives
Why Climate Change is an Environmental Justice Issue, State of the Planet
Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change, Yale Environmental
Environmental and Climate Issues, NAACP
Climate Change, Health, and Environmental Justice, Environmental Protection Agency
Racial Justice and Climate Change: Exposure, Climate Action
Environmental racism is killing Americans of color. Climate change will make it worse, The Guardian
2020-2025 Strategic Plan, YWCA Greater Cleveland.