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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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St. Joe’s alum co-hosts panel on environmental racism

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The Instagram page is regularly updated with upcoming panel discussions.

An Aug. 16 panel on environmental racism, co-hosted by Dumonde ‘Slam’ Dunkley ’20 and Kawehi Perry-Ahoy, discussed the current global climate crisis and how it relates to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

This panel featured three experts on the topic and it  is part of a series of conversations held through Dunkley and Perry-Ahoy’s Instagram platform, @SettingTheTone4BLM, which aims to create a constructive space for dialogue around the BLM  movement. 

Casey Camp-Horinek, actor and Indigienous environmentalist, said colonizers and large corporations have been building refineries, power plants and other environmentally harmful industrial centers on the lands of Indigenous people, within communities of color and in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. 

People who live in those communities face disproportionately harsh environmental conditions and negative health effects compared to their wealthier and whiter counterparts. Camp-Horinek saw parallels between George Floyd’s killing and the adverse effects of pollution on communities of color.

“‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ George [Floyd] said that. And, it carries over into so many areas,” Camp-Horinek said. “When we talk Black Lives Matter, it’s not just like the knee on the neck, because we’re all aware that that has been part of this systemic problem that he’s speaking of right now. But also, we can’t breathe.”

Throughout the panel, Dunkley said the issues between racial injustice and environmental degradation cannot be solved independently of one another.  

“If anything has been shown to us in the last months, it’s that people of color, natives and our Black and brown communities are disproportionately affected when it comes to any social problem,” Dunkley said. “Our destinies are intertwined, and we have to join together if we want to see change for ourselves and our future generations.”

Clint Springer, Ph. D., director of environmental science and sustainability studies and associate professor of biology, said the environmental issues facing the world include rising sea levels, a warming atmosphere and severe weather pattern changes. Springer related these scientific changes to their contribution to systemic racism in the U.S.

“People don’t necessarily see environmental racism because it’s somewhat overt, especially where a lot of us live,” Springer said. “If I drive across the Benjamin Franklin bridge and look at the infrastructure for water treatment, it’s very near public housing in Camden, New Jersey. What it really is, is systemic, oppressive racism at work.”

With the upcoming presidential election and the increasing momentum and visibility of the BLM  movement across the country, Dunkley said  panel attendees must  push for change and be vocal about racial and environmental injustices and encourage the  U.S. to make change.

“It’s due time that we start leading by example, it is due time that we start uplifting the voices of the people who have tried to be protecting land for generations and it’s time for us to start putting people before profit,” Dunkley said. 

 

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