How Does Your Whiteness Inform Your Climate Work? Fair Question.
Reverend Lennox Yearwood delivering a moving keynote address to the HBCU Climate Conference.
Photo: Erika Spanger-Siegfried
This past weekend, I had the honor and challenge of presenting at the Fifth Annual
Climate Conference of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). For
the past three years, UCS has been proud to be one of the sponsors of this summit
at Dillard University, in New Orleans, and we’re looking forward to continuing to
support it in years to come.
For me personally, this year’s event took an important turn when a Howard University
student stood up and posed a good, hard question: How does your whiteness inform your
work on climate change?
It’s an honor to speak to the HBCU Climate Conference.
Its co-conveners are environmental justice luminaries, people you feel lucky to have
met. Dr. Beverly Wright of Dillard University is founder and director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and a larger-than-life EJ scholar and voice. Dr. Robert Bullard of Texas Southern University is considered the father of environmental justice.
The conference’s speakers leave an imprint. Friday’s keynote speech, for example,
was delivered by Reverend Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, a star in the climate movement, and a source of inspiration since I first heard
him speak back in February, 2013 at the DC rally against the Keystone Pipeline. (I
was so happy, I told him, when he tweeted one of my blog posts earlier this year…)