Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 1 (Ash Wednesday): Dorien Paul

Today's the first day of my Lenten Challenge, "I Was a Stranger." Today's Bible passage comes from Genesis. If Adam and Eve did actually exist a few million years ago, we know for sure they weren't white people!

With Republicans poised to gut environmental regulations that protect our earth, air, and water, I thought I'd follow the Genesis reading by honoring a voice of someone fighting for the earth, who is also a person of color. "'It Isn't Easy Being Green' and a Person of Color" is a blog post by Dorien Paul, a DC-based millennial social and environmental activist and author.

Here's what I learned from Paul: People of color are vastly underrepresented in the environmental movement and the industry itself. According to a report by Dr. Dorceta Taylor of Green 2.0 in 2014, statistically, "people of color support environmental protection at a rate higher than whites." However, people of color make up only 12.4 percent of staff at environmental NGOs, government agencies, and foundations. (I work for an environmental consulting company, and we're doing slightly better: 19 percent of our U.S. employees are people of color.) While one out of three interns at environmental foundations is a person of color, people of color account for only one out of ten leaders at those organizations. Not only does the feminist movement have a color problem, but the environmental movement also does. Green 2.0 and New America Media are calling on environmental groups to release their diversity data. 

"Environmental enthusiasts and activists of color have carved out our own space in a community of like-minded, earth-toned stewards of color," Paul notes. "This observation isn’t made to suggest that people of color should draw away from the organizations that often set the mainstream environmental agenda. It is however raised to empower everyone with 'skin in the game' to pull up a chair and claim your seat at the table, or make your own. And if these new developments have taught us anything, remember to bring a friend."
Those of us who are white and inspired by the creation story are also called: to create more spaces around these tables, and even better, at the heads of those tables. 

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