Black, Green and the Economy

Brentin Mock, one of my colleagues at the IJJ fellowship brought to my attention this great article in The Root regarding the green movement in the black community.

From The Root:

For blacks, the green movement has been primarily about bad things dumped in our neighborhoods. But health-based activism is no longer enough. Today’s black and green movement must be about jobs and economic sustainability....

...But that largely defensive, health-based environmentalism is no longer enough—if it ever was. President Obama has raised the stakes considerably by inextricably tying his massive economic agenda to the sustainability movement. And when you follow the links, the consequences of that decision are clear-black America's future might just depend upon its ability to paint its politics green.

Obama likes to point out that he's not the first president who's had to create a whole new economy. It remains to be seen whether his effort will as profoundly impact American life as Abraham Lincoln's railroad or FDR's GI Bill, but the audacious president hasn't been shy about his aspirations. "History reminds us," he thundered in his February address to Congress, "that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas."..

...Nearly a quarter of black households live below the poverty line, a share that is probably growing. In February, black unemployment hit a whopping 13.4 percent, nearly double the rate for whites. A generations-long gap in homeownership is widening as blacks and Latinos-who were clearly targeted with subprime lending and often steered away from more affordable loans-are poised to lose billions and absorb an estimated half of the nation's wealth loss from foreclosures. Even the auto industry collapse looks likely to hurt black working families the most.

So what does a green economy look like? Green Jobs for All has begun sketching out a clear answer to that question (and, not for nothing, its founding CEO Van Jones is Obama's new green jobs adviser). First, you have to understand the potential: Green jobs aren't just high-tech, they're everything from new building trades such as installing solar panels to revamped old-school ones such as putting in insulation. Like manufacturing was to the 20th century, they're jobs that don't require college degrees but nonetheless generate middle-class wages...

President Obama brought up yesterday during his various media appearances that America needs to prepare the next generation in careers in the sciences, math and technology in order to stay competitive in the global economy. In order to ensure all Americans have access to these career opportunities, training will need to made available and resources are distributed equally.

It is also great to see people of color like Van Jones and Sonal Shah leading the discussion on the green economy and social innovation respectively.

I am looking forward to discussing this as the months go on.



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