“It Isn’t Easy Being Green” and a Person of Color
While it may come as a surprise to those entranced by the powerful images of Lisa Jackson, Van Jones, and Majora Carter in mass media, it seems the lack of black and brown faces in America’s environmental organizations tells a grimmer story of “our” progress. The environmental movement is no stranger to accusations of being one of the longest standing “members only” clubs of the 21st century. For the newfound sexiness of diversity and inclusion we can thank young and fearless advocates and an onslaught of black films at the box offices in 2014. But will conversations about diversity and inclusion persist when our “Selma” moment fades and Barack Obama boards Air Force One for the last time as the first African-American president of the United States?
From the Sierra Club to Silicon Valley new and old efforts to diversify have taken center stage in an ever-amplified conversation on race relations in America. Recently we’ve experienced what happens when diversity and environmental advocates join forces to address the diversity gap our
movement is experiencing.
For example, last year’s groundbreaking report by Dr. Dorceta Taylor of Green 2.0, a collective of diversity experts and environmental scholars, quantifies just how wide the diversity gap is. The comprehensive report which surveys environmental NGOs, government agencies, and environmental grant making foundations raises a poignant question, “Do people of color have a seat at the table, beyond the receptionist’s desk?” Dr. Taylor’s report highlights that statistically “People of color support environmental protection at a rate higher than whites.” If this is true, we should continue to question why people of color make up only 12.4% of staffing at environmental NGOs with similar rates at government agencies and foundations.