Global warming is affecting Black Americans in a very real way. While melanin may offer natural protection against UV rays, that same dark skin is highly politicized in a way that puts Black Americans on the front line of the receiving end of global warming’s immediate consequences. Specifically, African Americans should be very interested in the ramifications of climate change because generations of systemic racism and oppression have their vast majority stationed in areas most severely impacted.
Forest fires and flash flooding are only half of that which is to be feared when it comes to global warming. When it comes to those most severely impacted by the pandemic, African Americans are statistically at greater risk. Many African Americans do not have the luxury of working from home but rather they are instead in service positions where they deal constantly with the public. Many African Americans who are not homeless are still living at or below the poverty line. This keeps them out of the home working instead of inside where the more privileged portion of America is free to practice social distancing and quarantine. Many Black and brown people belong to industries that keep them in public for work.
More than half of Black Americans live in the south. Global warming comes with the promise of more hurricanes and frequent flooding events leaving those in gulf areas of America like Louisiana uniquely vulnerable to the repeating of disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Many blacks who do not live in the south live in cities where urban heat islands and food deserts are par for the course. Heatwaves in urban areas are expected to become more frequent in these areas with more pavement and less greenery.
Thanks to gentrification, urban renewal, “white flight”, zoning, gerrymandering, and legislature in America have been largely in the hands of anti-black racists, African Americans have been “kept” for the most part in the cities, states, and neighborhoods most vulnerable to pollution and food drought. Blacks are more likely to live in areas where chemical plants are located, contributing to higher levels of air pollution which also contributed to the heat island phenomenon.
Sustainable Living Practices
As a solution, many say Black Americans should just leave places like the south to avoid these consequences but that becomes a financial issue for those living at or beneath the poverty line. Many do not have the financial liberty to uproot themselves and migrate. Especially single-parent-led households which are common among African Americans. Environmental activists are encouraging inner-city Americans to consider the installation of green roofs and partial homesteading. Winter is coming, but global warming is already here.