ACE Director on Movement Vision Lab Blog

By Penn Loh, January 7, 2008

Beyond Green Alone: Environmental Justice

The environment is connected to issues of housing, jobs, education and health — all of which are shaped by racism and classism. In pursuing these issues, we have important choices to make.

Progressives have historically viewed environmentalism with a skeptical eye. We often hear: It’s irrelevant, compared to housing, jobs, education, and health. It’s a luxury, a lifestyle choice for those who can afford. It’s blocking the development and jobs that we need to fight poverty.

But the environmental justice (EJ) movement changed all that by the early 1990s. Finally, environmental issues were framed from the perspective of oppressed communities. Racism and classism were literally poisoning us. EJ redefined the environment as the places where we live, work, and play. EJ became a shade of green that progressives could add to our rainbow.

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