This was written by Dorthea E. Thomas, CEO and Founder of The Minority Women in Leadership Commission.
Living in a city full of environmental hazards such as tar sands, illegal dumping, and coal-fired facilities that emit tons of pollutants in our air and water every year, I’ve become empowered by necessity to become the change I wish to see in Detroit.
The World Health Organization published a report stating air pollution causes about 1 in 8 deaths and air pollution has become the single biggest environmental health risk. By reducing air pollution levels, we can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
After losing my grandmother from a multitude of very rare cancers, I’ve also had health issues. I was diagnosed with an eye disease called scleritis which is affected by the atmospheric pressure of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) — I worry about my environment. So I knew I had to stand up and do something even if no one else would.
Where I come from social justice activism is considered a way of survival. If we don’t fight, we won’t live. If we don’t stand up, we’ll be walked on. I am just trying to survive and take others with me along the way.
I am an activist because I believe my voice has the power to influence the betterment of my community, and our environment. We need to push for healthier, sustainable communities for generations to come by educating and empowering others.
My mission in life is to advocate for healthier communities and better clean energy options, while promoting better economic opportunities in the green job sector. Because of this mission, I decided to write for Mom’s Clean Air Force. I believe that in order to make an effective change, we need job-creating regulations to assure that our children have clean air right now, and for their future. For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change and air pollution, because studies have shown that children are more vulnerable to the many effects of air pollution, climate change and fossil fuel combustion.
With high hopes, I want to pass down a legacy to my future family that their mother, grandmother or great grandmother did all she could to make a difference in this world, and provide the best quality of life for generations to come. As an environmental justice advocate, I look forward to spreading a message of hope, justice and education by working with Mom’s Clean Air Force.
Dorthea E. Thomas is the CEO and Founder of The Minority Women in Leadership Commission which mission is to educate and empower young women of color to increase their leadership capabilities as social change agents. As a community organizer and sustainable technology specialist focusing on sustainable environmental design, she advocates on behalf on environmental justice issues. With the heart of a public servant, she is also the 1st Vice President of the NAACP Michigan Youth and College Division and the National Environmental and Climate Justice Youth Ambassador. She self-identifies as an Eco-Glam enthusiast and enjoys creating natural skin and body products at home. In each capacity, she aims to help be the change she wish to see in a healthier, cleaner and more just society for generations to come.