Climate change is changing the history of Black Americans.
For years, Americans have had to deal with the devastating effects of extreme weather. We’ve seen thousands of families lose their homes, and in some cases their loved ones from extreme weather events. We are not only breaking weather records, we are also impacting families in ways that will have long lasting effects for generations to come.
This is frightening for me as a Black mother because I have been reading studies and resources that show that African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by climate change:
“More than half of African Americans in the US live in the South. The southern US is four times more likely to have a significant storm or flood, compared to other parts of the country, causing these problems to be more severe for African Americans.”
The communities that are affected the most by poor air quality are communities filled with Black and Latino populations. For many years, higher rates of asthma in the the Black community has been been linked to poor air quality. And to make matters worse, Blacks are disproportionately impacted economically by the effects of climate change, and Covid-19. We’re feeling the effects of being laid off when industries suffer severe weather events. This leads to increases in the prices of food, energy, and fuel.
Climate change is threatening our health, our livelihoods, and our ability to leave a clean environmental legacy to our children and future generations. It’s just that serious.
Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Professor at the University of Georgia (UGA) and Director of UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences Program, tackles how the African American community is unequally impacted by climate change in piece he wrote for Ebony titled, Are African-Americans More Vulnerable to Climate Change? Dr. Shepard writes:
African-Americans are not strangers to environmental justices issues like brownfields (land with environmental problems that may leave it vacant or underused), industrial pollution, and water pollution. However, like a many people of all races, climate change is often not perceived as an immediate threat or may even be viewed as unsettled or theory. Scientists understand what is at stake; now, our community must as well.”
Dr. Martin Luther King most certainly would have stood up for clean air. And so must the Black community; including our elected officials, our mothers, fathers, and neighbors.