These Latinas Are Stomping Out Machismo And Leading The Fight For Environmental Justice Across The Nation
Climate change is real, and it’s increasingly impacting our earth and our lives. The planet is warming at a faster rate than ever before. Sea levels are rising. Natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires to droughts, are occurring all over the world, prompting climate refugees to flee their homes and governments to spend billions of dollars in recovery.
The historic changes happening to our planet has politicians rallying around a Green New Deal. While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has become the face of this policy, she’s not alone in her congressional fight to instill earth-saving legislation that fights climate change, creates economic opportunity and reduces environmental racism. Latina politicians like Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ environmental task force, is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and has fought throughout her career for low-income, Black and brown polluted communities, as well as Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), the newly-elected congresswoman who, before taking office, worked in environmental justice while heading both the Zoo Miami Foundation and the Coral Restoration Foundation, among others, are tackling problems head-on in government.
But these women stand on the shoulders of everyday Latinas who are doing the work on the ground, those raising awareness, conducting academic research, advocating in their communities and planting trees across the nation. On Earth Day, we are celebrating some of the Latinas fighting for environmental justice across the country.
1. Belinda Faustinos
Belinda Faustinos has worked in environmentalism and conservation for 40 years. The executive director of Nature for All, a coalition of 12 organizations that promotes park access in Los Angeles, she also led efforts that prompted then-President Barack Obama to declare the San Gabriel Mountains a national monument in 2014. Oftentimes the only Latina working toward environmental justice at the start of her career, she is sometimes referred to as “la abuelita of Latinas in environmentalism.”
2. Elizabeth Yeampierre
In New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre is an attorney and climate justice leader. The co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance and the executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latinx community-based organization, Yeampierre has organized for sustainable environmental justice and facilitated with the community to create climate adaptation and community resiliency in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.
3. Ana Parras
Ana Parras is the co-director and administer at the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.). Under her leadership, the organization provides community members in the Lone Star State with the tools needed to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities. They do this through educating individuals on health concerns, the effects of environmental pollution and applicable environmental laws and offering the community opportunities to build effective publics together.
4. Jennifer Ramírez
In California, Jennifer Ramírez is a community organizer at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. Through the nonprofit, she addresses the city’s park inequities by creating green spaces, like urban parks and community gardens, with those who live in the communities. The young activist wants to create a sustainable planet where youth of today and tomorrow can thrive.
5. Dr. Hilda Lloréns
Dr. Hilda Lloréns is a cultural anthropologist and a decolonial scholar at the University of Rhode Island. The Puerto Rican professor’s research looks at how racial and gender inequality manifest itself in cultural production, nation building, access to environmental resources and exposure to environmental degradation. Most recently, Dr. Lloréns’s research has tackled environmental issues impacting Puerto Rico, especially as it relates to the causes and impacts of Hurricane Maria.
6. Génesis Abreu
Génesis Abreu is a community organizer, educator and researcher working at the intersection of environmental, climate, gender and language justice. The Salvadoran-Dominican activist is currently an organizer with We Act, a Harlem-based org empowering and organizing low-income people of color to build healthy communities and participate in the creation of just policies and practices of health and environmental protection. At We Act, Abreu, who previously received a research grant from the Fulbright Program to study the impacts of climate change on the agricultural practices of indigenous Quechua communities in Peru, recruits Spanish-speaking residents of Upper Manhattan.
7. Marilyn Duran
Marilyn Duran is a community organizer at People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Justice (PODER). The San Francisco-based grassroots organization creates people-powered solutions to the environmental and economic inequities facing low-income Latinx immigrants in the city. The Nicaragüense activist has represented PODER at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006, on the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice’s Youth Leadership Campaign in 2009, as a Reel Justice Fellow learning about media production and storytelling in 2013 and as a Climate Justice Alliance Fellow in 2015.
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