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It’s no secret that The Washington Informer finds it important to cover all aspects of the climate and environment — including from a historical, local, legislative and advocacy lens, among others.  

If you’re reading or picking up a hard copy of the paper, you’ll see the Earth Month supplement included in this week’s edition, carefully curated by Kayla Benjamin, our climate and environment reporter.  Further, the Informer has the weekly “Our Earth,” page highlighting and reporting on environmental happenings.

That said, Earth Day is bigger than how this publication prioritizes climate coverage, it’s about how all people embrace Mother Earth.  And for the Black community, understanding the role the environment plays in African American culture is key to sustaining culture.

The Rev. Dr. Dianne Glave described the relationship between Black Americans and the environment as “the interconnectedness of the human, spiritual, and environmental realm… harm toward or care for one necessarily affected the others,” according to Presbyterian Mission.

For centuries, pre, during and post U.S. chattel slavery, the environment offered provisions, sacred places to worship, clues, and the ability to escape from captivity, Presbyterian Mission noted, adding the relationship between the earth and Black and women is even deeper. Black women have taken inspiration from the earth and become heroes, such as Harriet Tubman, who used the environment to free dozens of enslaved people.

Despite a deep connection with Mother Earth, today, African Americans are disproportionately affected by environmental challenges and injustice. 

For instance, Black Americans and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution. According to a Princeton 2020 report, “Racial Disparities and Climate Change,” more than one million Black Americans live within a half-mile of natural gas facilities; more than one million African Americans face a “cancer risk above EPA’s level of concern,” because of unclean air; and more than one in 6.7 million Black Americans live in the 91 U.S. counties with oil refineries.   

Environmental justice advocates note such statistics as a reason to not only fight against the injustice, but work to improve the numbers and encourage others to care about a healthier, more green and environmentally friendly environment.

There are so many ways we can work to reduce our carbon footprint, such as turning off lights when we leave rooms or opening windows and appreciating natural sunlight when possible, recycling, picking up litter, opting on reusable water bottles and encouraging others to care about the Earth as well. 

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