Posts Tagged Environmental racism

Be the change(s) you wish to see

 

If Gandhi, Angela Davis, and Al Gore somehow conjured up a sustainable yet socially-conscious plan to conceive a love child, I’m almost certain that modern day environmental justice advocate and social entrepreneur, Majora Carter would be birthed.

Sitting across from Ms. Carter at the Clarke Forum dinner last Monday, many thoughts (most driven by relentless fluster) crossed my mind: 1) Why did I let my professor (still thankful though) coax me into switching tables with her so that I was strategically placed directly across from THE Majora Carter? 2) Did I really just finish a Dickinson prepared meal without having to question the contents of the meal? 3) How could someone so potent in actions and strategies be so graceful with words and in presence? Well, it’s been a week and I still cannot adequately answer these questions, but what I can share sheds little light on my “wine and dine” experience and more so on the lecture Majora Carter presented to the Dickinson community afterwards.

For someone who classifies ‘growing communities from the inside out’ as her “side hustle,” Carter definitely made an effort to captivate the audience’s crowd with an opening set of beautifully-photographed black-and-white images taken in her South Bronx neighborhood of her parents, friends, and other childhood memories, which was juxtaposed with her refreshing, rough around the edges, personal anecdote.  Throughout her talk, Carter spoke of her beginning steps towards “greening the ghetto,” which inevitably lead to future green social and economically-advanced projects such as BEST (Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training), and encountered obstacles that may have contributed to or slowed down her success.

While other audience members may have been fascinated by Carter’s ability to take on so many roles and projects willingly and effectively, I, on the other hand, was more fixed on exactly how she was able to manifest her skills and ideas to residents in these neighborhoods stricken with social economic downturn, environmental racism, and reoccurring gentrification while maintaining a holistic and optimistic attitude.  I believe Carter alluded to her strategies at achieving common ground with the residents various times throughout her talk even through the brief moments of silence; it was her passion.  Major Carter’s passion initiated her start and surely enough is accompanying her along the rewarding path of environmental justice change.

Apart from her TED video and various articles read, I had little knowledge of Majora Carter’s modest yet extensive work as an activist who promoted social, economic, and environmental development.  Nonetheless, her words and courage also resonated with me as I somehow found a piece of me in her. Each day I come to terms with the many opportunities I have been blessed with not only because of my self-driven and proactive nature, but also because of my support system comprised of friends, family, and mentors that has kept me grounded my entire life.  The truth is, anyone and everyone wants to lead an extraordinary life. But the other truth remains untapped for many individuals: you must help others to help yourself.  As I continue to grow and develop as an individual, I only hope to meet Majora Carter at least halfway in her unremitted graciousness and infectious alacrity demonstrated in each word she professes and action she takes.

If there were one thing from my evening with Majora Carter that I’d connect to the understandings of Ecofeminism, it would be the importance of building coalitions.  Building coalitions with like-minded individuals and groups and even sometimes groups radically different from your own sheds an entirely different light on collaboration and success.  Regardless of the outcome, working together towards one goal or many goals will undoubtedly reveal an even greater understanding of the world around us; that is progress. As Gandhi once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

 

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