The drastic changes happening to our planet are not a direct result of race issues in America, but the impact of those changes on particular segments of society is related to our construction of race. Speaking on Michigan's recent water poisoning, Blessed Tomorrow Leader and founder of Sojourners Magazine, Rev. Jim Wallis, demonstrates how a lack of resources such as clean water, disproportionately burdens people of color. Rev. Wallis explains, "This fundamental contrast between black and white experiences in Michigan…points to the structural racism that is still the primary moral contradiction of American life."
The devastating disregard for human life in Flint illustrates how constructions of race play a major role in deciding who is impacted by issues of climate change, such as polluted water, air pollution, and food scarcity. I say 'is' and not 'when' because issues of the environment have historically appeared along lines of 'perceived race,' as Ta-Nehisi Coates poignantly expounded.
Check out this short video to see how environmental issues and constructions of race are interrelated, dating back to century old, race-based zoning policies.
Now think about this: what do your scriptures guide you to do about it?
Jim Wallis | Sojourners
How would you feel if you realized your children’s water was being poisoned, and your government didn’t seem to care? That’s the story of the parents of 8,000 mostly poor and black children in Flint, Mich., (which means most all of the children in urban Flint) that has finally hit our media front pages. The evening news I am watching as I write warns the parents of Flint not to bathe their young children in city water.
But the fact that most Americans realize this would never happen in affluent white Michigan suburbs (or any other white affluent communities in our country), still doesn’t penetrate our very souls. This fundamental contrast between black and white experiences in Michigan, just north of my home town of Detroit, points to the structural racism that is still the primary moral contradiction of American life. The news about Flint is just the most recent consequence of America’s Original Sin, the title of the new book we have just launched.