African-Americans' roles in fighting against environmental racism
Q&A interview with Norris McDonald, president of the African-American Environmentalist Association
Coronavirus has no cure. Still, this year, the odds of me seeing people wearing face masks on multi-walks with my dog are slim to none. This was why I was perplexed in mid-June by the amount of people uniformly wearing face masks. I stepped outside to sniff a strange smell and noticed cloudiness on an otherwise warm, summer morning. It wasn’t until I checked my morning news alerts that I found out about the Canadian wildfires, which led to the hazy, smoky skies in Illinois (along with Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin).
Those fires not only affected the Midwest; they’d also left Chicago with the worst air quality in the world on Tuesday, June 27, according to tracking service IQAir.com. In a U.S. city with the second-largest number of people self-identifying as Black, the absolute last thing we need is more pollution on top of worldwide global warming. The New York Times already reported that “people of color” breathe more hazardous air than white people. And as much as I love Canada, I had no love for my northern neighbor that week.
The pollution alerts made me recall a 2008 interview I’d completed with Norris McDonald, the president of the African-American Environmentalist Association. We discussed environmental racism, food price increases, hybrid cars and more. Check out the interview below.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn: In number four of the African-American Environmentalist Association’s (AAEA) organizational goals, it says your organization would like to “include an African-American point of view in environmental policy decision-making.” What would be an example of something about the environment that the African-American perspective would be more likely to decide on?
Norris McDonald: Energy prices. Traditional environmental groups favor high energy prices as a conservation tool. We disagree with this and support plentiful supplies at reasonable prices. High energy prices seriously hurt the overall economy and severely damage the African-American community.