Let’s Talk About Intersectional Environmentalism

Letitia Dargue
toasting good
Published in
3 min readOct 20, 2020

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Over the last few months, we have all watched the unforgivable ways that policing institutions treat ethnic minorities. But the insidious discrimination which permeates all corners of society does not just physically damage ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people, it also shuns and disregards them.

Unbeknownst to many, the environmental sector suffers a lack of diversity. A study in the UK from 2016–2017 has shown that 3.1% of environmental professionals identified as non-white. In comparison to the 19.9% of professionals that identify as non-white within British society as a whole. These proportions are similar in the United States. Sadly, the adverse effects of minimal representation within the environmental sector goes beyond their employment. The dominant mindset of whiteness results in structural oversights to negative environmental impacts on low income, indigenous and minority communities.

Intersectional Environmentalists take care to consider LGBTQ+, East Asian, South Asian, South-East Asian, Latin X and indigenous peoples unique interactions with environmental justice.

Why is this a larger issue than employing diverse individuals within the environmental sector?

Let’s examine a case study. In America, the black community is extremely vocal with its support for environmental issues. The community often focuses on environmental injustice. For example, the disproportionately high placement of polluting factories accompanied by heightened carbon emissions within Black counties.

Black people have reasonably shown a strong interest in resolving these issues by forming environmental organizations. However, environmental organizations need funding to make a larger impact, and funding within the environmental sector often goes to the largest and predominantly white organizations.

Because of the dismissal of Black people within environmentalism, studies show that 71% of Black Americans live in areas of which the air pollution is in violation of federal air standards, in comparison to 59% of white people. Due to this, Black people have a 36% higher asthma rate than whites. Showing how environmental inequalities are determinants of larger health issues for exploited communities.

This is where Intersectional Environmentalism comes into play…

What is Intersectional Environmentalism and how can I support it?

Intersectional Environmentalism is an extremely important social movement within the environmental sector, which is working to build a community of diverse people who want to help the environment. It takes care to consider LGBTQ+, East Asian, South Asian, South-East Asian, Latin X and indigenous peoples unique interactions with environmental justice. By opening the scope of what it means to be an environmentalist organization outside of the realm of whiteness, we will be able to solve issues within non-white communities.

Photo by Deb Dowd on Unsplash

To support intersectional environmentalism, it is important to learn from Leah Thomas and her Intersectional Environmentalist movement. You can learn more from this website and explore the communities supported within this sector as well as the organizations they promote. If the last year has shown us anything, it is that racism will not go away unless we all actively promote anti-racism. By engaging with diverse communities, the environmental sector exposes itself to new perspectives, ideas and opinions, allowing for growth in the industry. Please, spread awareness of these amazing organizations and support the intersectional environmental movement.

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Letitia Dargue
toasting good

A socially conscious Copy Writer, specializing in the gym and beauty niches.