This year for Earth Month, Moms Clean Air Force is honoring climate champions who are working hard to fight for the health and future of our children.
Our Michigan field organizer, Elizabeth Hauptman, interviewed Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) about her work in Congress fighting air pollution and climate change, and why it’s important to protect the health of Michigan’s families now and for the future.
As we celebrate Earth Month, what are your priorities to tackle climate change to protect the planet, our children, and future generations?
I’m continuing to fight for a Green New Deal, because our climate action must meet the scale of the crisis we are facing. We can’t keep giving corporations a license to pollute our air and water. We have to prioritize climate adaptation and resiliency in our frontline communities that have been poisoned for decades and will be hardest hit by extreme temperatures and weather. For too long our environment has been viewed as a resource to exploit, to squeeze as much money out of regardless of the consequences. We have to shift the paradigm in how government manages our natural world—not for profit, but for people and wildlife.
This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth,” and Moms Clean Air Force is fighting for Justice in Every Breath. How do those themes of restoring, rebuilding, and advocating for equity in climate action resonate with you, personally, and professionally?
I started getting involved in environmental justice years ago by organizing my community in a We Have a Right to Breathe campaign that highlighted the unjust air pollution my Black and brown neighbors were facing. It was focused on our humanity, and how low-income communities of color are sacrificed so that wealthier, whiter suburbs can breathe the clean air we all deserve. Restoring, rebuilding, and equity are all great themes because they acknowledge that our current environmental situation is the result of intentional policy choices, and that some communities bear the weight for others, and that equality isn’t enough to make up for past injustices—we need real equity that proactively addresses those harms.
Congresswoman Tlaib is a well-known progressive warrior and, in her own words, “a mother working for justice for all.” Her two young sons are at the root of her unwavering passion to help change lives for the better. She is the oldest of 14 children, born and raised in Detroit, the proud daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents.
Rashida made history in 2008 by becoming the first Muslim woman to ever serve in the Michigan Legislature. She is beloved by residents for the transformative constituent services she provided and for successfully fighting the billionaires and corporations that tried to pollute her district.
Rashida knows that effective advocacy requires an all-out approach, fighting in the community, in the legislature, and in the courts every day against injustice and inequality, so that every single person in this country has a chance to thrive.
She is currently the Congresswoman for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, which includes the city of Detroit and many surrounding communities.Tell Congress: The American Jobs Plan Will Lead Us to Climate Safety