Blogger Gloria founded “Black Into Green”, a blog devoted to environmentalism from an African American perspective. On top of having perhaps the longest standing blog about being Black and Green, she is a mother, a nature lover, and a cancer survivor.
When did you develop an interest in environmentalism and why?
I was influenced as a child by anti-littering commercials featuring an American Indian tearing up over the state of the littered environment. My son, as a kid, was interested in recycling. In 2007 I became more concerned about environmental impact of chemicals in our environment.
Why do you believe in global warming and that humans contribute to climate change?
The number of scientists and science based evidence that have confirmed human contributions.
What do you think prevents more people from going green?
A number of reasons. It varies per group: Lack of awareness, not willing to change lifestyles, inconvenient, not sure where to start, not perceived as being fun or cool, “me not we” mentality, no clearly defined benefit…
What’s the most important thing to remember about going green?
Understand your motive and take one step at a time. Its addictive, the more you do the more you want to do.
What environmental issue keeps you up at night?
Our community’s [the Black community’s] lack of connection with nature, what we eat, what we give our kids, what we put on our bodies and our need to consume, consume, consume. Lack of awareness and affordability contribute to these issues. Also, affects of our pollution (electronics) and global-warming-promoting-habits having greater impact on individuals in less developed more resource challenged countries.
Why is going green from a Black perspective important?
Because we are greatly impacted. We are more likely to use cheaper, more affordable products with dubious ingredients, live closer to polluted and toxic areas (power plants, factories,etc). We have a lot to gain – healthier food, improvements in quality of life with greener communities (walkable, safer, self sufficient gardens, healthier building materials -low voc paints, better insulated homes). Our relatives in Africa are suffering due to climate change related droughts or excess rains brought on by our over consumptive habits.
Our relatives in Africa are suffering due to climate change related droughts or excess rains brought on by our over consumptive habits.
How do you feel about Black involvement in environmentalism at the level you’re on in this movement? In attending lectures, classes or even talking about books are you sometimes the only African American around?
We could always use more representation – to advocate our unique interests and to counter false perceptions and stereotypes that I sometimes hear at green events about our communities and our people. Occasionally, I am the only person of color at these events (including Asians, Latinos etc.), but often there may be 2 or 3 of us. Typically we know one another.
What do you think Black people have to teach others about the environment? What do we need to learn?
If we speak with our grandparents they can tell you about the big gardens they used to keep, using vinegar and lemons to do everything from toning our skin to disinfecting the house, their old school ways of reducing reusing and recycling and the value placed on frugality. It is now eco-chic to use these strategies!
We need to learn to live our values and to pay more attention to what we eat, what we put on our bodies and products we use in general. Let the buyer beware is good advice. We need to live in the moment, appreciate what we have and stop spending our lives away aimlessly wondering around the mall looking for the 50th pair of shoes. I would like for us to educate ourselves on the lifecycle of products and the lives that it impacts along the way.
I would like for us to educate ourselves on the lifecycle of products and the lives that it impacts along the way.
Do you think Black people need to be approached differently than others when trying to get more Black people to go green?
I don’t think that there is a need to dramatically change messaging strategies when speaking with Blacks on the issue of the environment, we just need to talk about it more often. I think the facts will speak for themselves when revealed. Who doesn’t want cleaner air, safer water, cheaper utilities, healthier living options, beautiful public spaces?
There will always be elements of some populations that will not want to change anything about their lifestyles. There is a perception that being green is an elitist white issue, but again that is only because the diverse faces of the green movement are not well represented in the media. I think groups like Green For All are doing a great job on the west coast of including young African Americans into the fold.
There is a perception that being green is an elitist white issue, but again that is only because the diverse faces of the green movement are not well represented in the media.
Do you like Hip Hop?
Yes, I do as long as the songs aren’t about strippers and threesomes, which sadly seems to be the constant refrain heard on the radio these days. Such a waste of good music.
Who do you listen too?
Because of what I just said, I enjoy the styles of artists like Twista, TI and Fabulous, but I would be more inclined to listen to Lupe Fiasco, Keyshia Cole, Common and Lauren Hill. More progressive Hip Hop artists that my son enjoys are Jay Electronica, Madlib, Blu, Mos Def and MFDOOM. I will have to check them out. I would love the idea of a green or conscious Hip Hop group – any takers?
As far as a “a green or conscious Hip Hop group” I’ve found if you seek you shall find but perhaps not in the form you would think. Thanks so much Gloria for your words and inspiration!