The episode, released June 6, explores what the president’s move to withdraw from the international climate agreement means domestically and, more specifically, for communities of color in the United States. Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela invited journalist Terrell Star and indigenous activist Tara Houska to delve into the matter.
“People of color and communities of color and communities of low wealth are impacted by fossil fuel extraction, they’re impacted by climate change first and worst,” says Houska. “When pipelines happen, when mines happen, whatever it happens to be, it’s in places we don’t think about. It’s in places that we don’t care about as a society, and that generally ends up being places of color like Native American reservations or, as we saw in Flint, Michigan, a situation where an entire population was being openly contaminated by a knowing government.”
Addressing this and prioritizing environmental justice isn’t an easy feat, as Starr and Houska explain. Communities of color don’t have the resources to hire lobbyists and challenge the oil giants that want to place coal power plants in their backyards, Starr emphasizes. Ultimately, winning fights like the one against the Dakota Access Pipeline requires media attention, court battles and public protest.
“If they can’t go against the billion dollar lobbyists, then you’re going to prey on them,” Starr says. “And that’s exactly why I think racism and environment go hand-in-hand.”
Listen to the full episode below to learn about the physical and mental stresses that often accompany environmental racism and the struggle to find environmental justice.