Racism, Genocide, Colonialism, and Care of the Environment 

At the East Coast North America and Caribbean Pre-World Conference, I attended a topic group on racism, genocide, colonialism, and care of the environment. Barbara Love,1 Azi Khalili,2 Minquansis Sapiel,3 and Irene Shen4 led the group with power and clarity.

They exposed the lie that people of the global majority don’t care about environmental issues.

They revealed how thoroughly the degradation of the environment has been intertwined with racism, genocide, and colonialism.

They modeled the critical importance of the leadership of people of the global majority—for the environment and for our RC Communities.

They clarified that we must address the environmental crisis in the context of everything we know about racism, genocide, colonialism/imperialism, sexism and male domination, classism, capitalism, and so on. Any attempt to address the environment as separate from these issues will be severely limited.

Here are some of the points that stood out to me:

• Environmental racism includes all policies and practices that result in people of the global majority being disproportionally affected by environmental hazards. For example, every region of the United States has racial disparities in terms of where garbage dumps, polluting factories, and hazardous-waste facilities are located. A large percentage of all African Americans, Latinos/as, and Native people in the United States live near these factories and facilities and experience disproportional negative health effects.

• Colonial powers in Europe have a long history of extracting resources from Africa, North and South America, and Asia, making Europe wealthy while ruining the lands of people of the global majority. International corporations, including those in North America, continue to destroy these lands today.

• In the United States, patterns of greed, addiction, consumption, and disconnection from the peoples of other nations underlie genocide, colonization/imperialism, and environmental racism.

• We all had Indigenous ancestors at some point in our family histories. We are all deeply connected to the land.

• Capitalism continues to put profits before both people and the land, with devastating results all over the world.

• By discharging, we can reclaim our love of and connection to the environment, including all people everywhere.

Russ Vernon-Jones
Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders in
the care of the environment


1 Barbara Love is the International Liberation Reference Person for African Heritage  People.
2 Azi Khalili is the Area Reference Person for the Brooklyn Gardens RC Community, in New  York City, New York, USA, and the International Liberation Reference Person for South,  Central, and West Asian-Heritage People.
3 Minquansis Sapiel is a Co-Counselor in Old Town, Maine, USA.
4 Irene Shen is an RC teacher in Brooklyn, New York, USA.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00