Good morning, let me walk you through my experience as a Black woman in EJ.
It's not easy being a Black women in environmental justice. In fact, it's quite draining. I often say to people "well, I can't just take off my EJ hate at 5:01pm when the work day is over". For me, activism is a 24/7 commitment. I can't always wash off the work day and get a good nights sleep.
And here's why.
I am an environmental justice activist. But before that, I am Black. And before that, I am a woman. I'm a double minority. I'm not just fighting for random people or for someone else's cause. I'm fighting for people who resemble and reflect me. It's my family members and my friends and peers who are disproportionately exposed to harmful environments. People that I care about and talk to every day.
But in addition to that, I am still a woman. I am still Black. I, too am still a victim of environmental racism. When I say I can't just leave the work day and turn off my environmental justice hat, it's because I still have to go home to the same environmental conditions.
But there's more. In environmental justice, we often like to talk about the facts. We report out on stats all the time because sometimes that's the only way that policymakers will actually listen to us. I get it, I really do. But constantly having to hear "Black women are 3 times more likely to die from this..." or " Black men have the highest rates of that..." is so traumatizing. I think about my family members who are sick, my friends who can't be homeowners, and the kids I hope to raise in the future. It's scary.
It's the reality. And no, I don't regret being an activist at all. I love it here. But I also have to acknowledge the ugly especially for Black women in the space. Hopefully if you were also feeling this way, you at least have some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Take it day by day and try to acknowledge even the small wins.
We love you. We see you. We appreciate you.