Is the “green” movement too white? According to former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones, it is.
Jones told the news site Grist that the environmental movement has a diversity problem.
“The mainstream donors and environmental organizations could be strengthened just by recognizing the other ‘environmentalisms’ that are already existing and flourishing outside their purview,” Jones said. Historically, many environmental organizations have been mostly white, and organizations tying environmentalism to social justice received a much smaller amount of funding than mainstream groups.
But Jones said that a movement that welcomed more diversity would flourish.
“If you go to Detroit, you will find lots of community gardening going on, lots of community cleanup going on, lots of small-scale manufacturing going on. None of this is being directed by any mainstream environmental group — these are organic, well-considered responses from people who are trying to make their lives better,” Jones said. “Those people should be called environmentalists as much as anybody who is standing up for endangered species.”
Jones has recently returned to the political scene, co-hosting CNN’s “Crossfire” after months of being a “social pariah,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. His re-emergence in public life has allowed him to become a major voice on environmental issues once again.
Jones said that mainstream environmental groups should help small-scale environmental justice groups get funding from donors and foundations to help further their missions. He argues that diversifying the donor lists of foundations would help African-American environmentalists make an impact on the environmental movement.
“I think there’s always been way more support in the black community for climate solutions and environmental solutions than we have credit for,” Jones said. “Some affluent white communities are more vocal and maybe have more intensity, and also more resources to single this one issue out, but the polling data’s pretty clear that African-Americans are among the most supportive of environmental regulation and climate solutions.”
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