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Democracy Means a Healthy and Safe Environment for All: Jovita Lee on PYP 430

“If living were a thing that money could buy,
You know the rich would live, and the poor would die.” – All My Trials, Joan Baez

Today's guest, Jovita Lee, is co-founder and vice president of Democracy Green, a North Carolina-based non-profit dedicated to environmental justice.

The environmental movement has a long and shameful history of privileging certain parts of the environment over others. Specifically, it's focused on preserving spaces enjoyed by the rich, and where the rich live.

The result is a nation in which environmental racism condemns poor people and people of color – regardless of income and economic status – to lives cut short by chronic conditions caused and worsened by pollutants and climate instability.

How many factory farms are located near middle- and upper-class communities?

How many toxic chemical plants and waste disposal facilities are sited near upscale suburbs?

We are shocked when we see police officers killing Black people by depriving them of air. We should be equally outraged at the fact that most poor communities of color have life expectancies 10-15 years shorter than the American average, largely caused by the toxins in their air, water, and soil. That their cancer rates are 50% higher than average.

In our conversation, we talked about the intersection of environment, democracy, and ethical consumerism. That is, if you don't want a disgusting, polluting, pig-processing plant in your neighborhood, maybe you should reconsider your consumption of pork, ham, and bacon.

We spoke of the racist effects of climate change, as people of color are globally most likely to be harmed and dispossessed by rising seas and stronger storms.

We talked about the war on Black bodies that has never ended; the forms of slavery that persist to this day; and the remarkably courageous and energetic work being done by activists and volunteers to bring about true democracy and justice.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

Democracy Green

Black Pensacola neighborhood, unfortified against storms, took massive hit from Hurricane Sally – Washington Post, September 17, 2020

The EPA's Environmental Justice Timeline

Natural Resources Defense Council's History of Environmental Justice

350.org: The Environmental Justice Movement is Rooted in Black History

The Atlantic: Environmentalism Was Once a Social-Justice Movement, by Jedediah Britton-Purdy

Environmental Justice Explainer Videos

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Anthony Dissen – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Christine Nielsen – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Wayne Pedersen – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Susan Ahmad – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Kelly Michiya – DeAnne Norton – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Tanya Lewis – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Valerie Pelletier – Peter W Evans – Colleen Harrison – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Günter Schmid – Marjorie Lewis – Kelly Moulden – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Rachelle Kennedy – Diana Goldman – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – Hollie Butler – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Olga Szydarowska – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – for your generous support of the podcast.

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