Environmental Justice After Charlottesville, VA

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Governor Syder’s Environmental Justice Working Group is accepting comments and questions.  Emails can be sent to EnvironmentalJusticeWorkGroup@michigan.gov 

Reposted from the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Michigan, Open Your Eyes to Racism

The gruesome violence that erupted in Virginia last week was a terrible reminder of the stark reality of racism in the United States. It’s a hatred imbalance of power wrought from the treacherous past. The explosive clashes, tragically resulted in the death of a young woman Heather Heyer. In her obituary, published by the New York Times, they describes Heather as a young passionate woman who died standing up for what she believed in: love and equality.

Equality. This is a notion that the Alt Right explicitly denounces. It’s a notion rejected by Vanguard, the group James Alex Fields Jr.—the man charged for striking 19 and killing Heather Heyer with a Charger– reportedly marched with in the Charlottesville rallies. Although the group denounced his actions, and deny his membership, Vanguard’s ruthless intentions were laid bare for the nation to see– a vision of the United States fortified by hatred. Their manifesto details “that equality does not exist in nature, and a government based in the natural law must not cater to the false notions of equality.” It rails multiculturalism, “international Jews”, and sees men as the sole provider for women.

In Environmental Justice work, we fight every day for equality. It is not just a concept, rather it is a moral imperative, that has far ranging impacts even down to the molecules of the air that we breathe. Equality decides who has the right to live, and for how long. Whether we are talking about losing your home in the foreclosure crisis[i], the per pupil amount distributed to students[ii], health disparities[iii], the amount ofchemical pollution we breathe[iv] [to name a few], all are injustices, and, none of them are distributed equally in our society. Rather, each of these issues are racialized. That is, if you are a person of color, you are statistically more likely in every category to be on the losing end. And that is so true for Michigan.

In the case of Flint, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights found that the underlying issues of racism contributed to the water contamination crisis in Flint. MDCR, publicly stated, “a complex mix of historical, structural and systemic racism combined with implicit bias led to decisions, actions, and consequences in Flint would not have been allowed to happen in primarily white communities such as Birmingham, Ann Arbor, or East Grand Rapids.”

In the wake of the Flint Water Crisis the Governor of Michigan formed the Environmental Justice Working Group to explore possible solutions to help forestall or foresee other catastrophes. Residents from SW Detroit zip code 48217 – known as Michigan’s most polluted zip code—organized and hosted a listening session for working group members to hear local concerns. Local residents asked for so many things, from an EJ Office, to more pollution mitigation funding. But none more poignant that the local nurse, pleading nearly in tears on behalf of the asthmatic teenagers who visit her River Rouge clinic, “they want to breathe, they want to breathe”.  Detroit has three times the asthma rate than the rest of the state.

So, is our society equal? No. We have proven that over and over in every sector from here to the moon. The conversation that is present now is whether or not you believe it. Are you of the ilk of Vanguard, James Fields and the Alt Right which seeks to deny it? Or do you deeply and profoundly agree in equality, what Heather Heyer was marching for? And if so, what are you going to do about it?

The full report on the Detroit Opportunity Index, and other major cities, can be seen on the Kirwin Institute website of Ohio State University

Michelle Martinez is the Coordinator for theMichigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and the Executive Director of Third Horizon Consulting, a Detroit-based social justice consulting firm.

State of MichiganEnvironmental Justice Working Group Northern Michigan Listening Session Thursday, August 24th, 2017, 6:00 PM Reception, 6:30 – 8:30 PM Listening Session, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, 100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd, Acme, MI 49610, State of Michigan Working Group Website

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SPLC releases guide”Ten Ways to Fight Hate”

Reposted from Southern Povery Law Center, August 14, 2017

A presidential candidate wins election after denigrating Muslims, Latinos, women and people with disabilities. A young white man opens fire and kills nine African Americans who welcomed him into Bible study at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, telling his victims, “I have to do it.” A Muslim woman is seated on a bench in front of a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., when a woman begins screaming anti-Muslim epithets. A swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti appear at an elementary school in Stapleton, Colorado. A lone gunman carrying an assault rifle and a handgun storms a well-known gay club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.

​Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment persist.

 

Fight hate in your community. Download the guide.

When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime. Most hate crimes are inspired by race and religion, but hate today wears many faces. Bias incidents (eruptions of hate where no crime is committed) also tear communities apart and can escalate into actual crimes.

Since 2010, law enforcement agencies have reported an average of about 6,000 hate crime incidents per year to the FBI. But government studies show that the real number is far higher — an estimated 260,000 per year. Many hate crimes never get reported, in large part because the victims are reluctant to go to the police. In addition, many law enforcement agencies are not fully trained to recognize or investigate hate crimes, and many simply do not collect or report hate crime data to the FBI.

The good news is, all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.

This guide sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community.

Free workshop at farmers’ market shares how to make your own personal care items

SONY DSCMake Your Own Personal Care Items
12 – 2 p.m. Saturday August 5
(Market hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Southeast Area Farmers’ Market
MLK Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506

Are you tired of paying too much for your personal care items? Does the list of chemical ingredients scare you? (It should!) Come to the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market Saturday and learn how to make your own!

Ms. Yvonne Woodard, market manager and vendor, has been making her own personal care products for years. She started doing so because of her health — she simply could not physically tolerate store-bought, chemical laden products.

Stop by and learn her tried-and-true recipes for the products living closest to your body!

Bridge Magazine at farmers’ market Saturday

bridgeBridge Magazine, the free, online publication of the nonprofit Center for Michigan,  has spent the last two summers visiting farmers’ markets across the state. Come to the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market Saturday and subscribe and you will receive a free tote bag (great for all those fruits and veggies) and be entered to win one of five, $100 Amazon gift cards.

Bridge Magazine offers in-depth news covering Michigan current affairs and public policy issues around the state from a nonpartisan perspective. It always has been, and always will be free. But if you decide you’re not that keen on it after your first issue, you can unsubscribe at any time.

The Center for Michigan, is a non-partisan non profit organization that works to amplify resident’s voices to leadership in Lansing across the state.

 

 

 

Environmental Justice Listening Session with Gov. Snyder’s EJ Work Group

flintwaterAugust 1, 2017  5:30-8:00pm
LINC Gallery-341 Hall St.

The members of the Governor’s Environmental Justice Work Group are interested in hearing directly from community members about how we can work together to improve our state and local communities around environmental justice. The Work Group has organized various listening tour stops around the state, that are designed for Work Group members to hear directly from community members how we can improve environmental justice awareness and engagement and increase the quality of life for all Michiganders. This input will help shape a set of recommendations the Work Group will send to the Governor.

Attendees should be prepared to discuss their needs to best address environmental justice in their community and their ideal vision for environmental justice in Michigan

Read more about the Environmental Justice Work Group on their website