Here Are 20 Latinxs Fighting For Environmental Justice
A 2015 Yale study found that Latino-Americans are much more engaged with the issue of global warming that non-Latinos. We know that global warming is happening, that it’s caused by humans and that we can take action to prevent it.
It’s no wonder given that Latinos are also vulnerable to air pollution and natural disasters because of where we live and work. Just look at Puerto Rico. Here are the Latinxs leading the fight for environmental justice and ways that we can help in our everyday lives.
1. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez | Youth Director, Earth Guardians
In April 2016, then 16-year old indigenous hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by the government’s reckless actions that contribute to global climate change.
His advice via the Huffington Post: ” We need to inspire people to take to the streets and the voting booth to appeal to the local and national court systems to demand change from our political leaders we can vote in or out of office.”
2. Lin-Manuel Miranda | Creator of “Hamilton”
By the nature of his work, Lin-Manuel Miranda fights for human rights, which means he fights against climate change. He dropped a single to raise money for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit and has been active in calling for donations and new coverage for the ongoing crisis on the island.
You can help by continuing to share news in your social media feeds to keep the attention on Puerto Rico, or by listening to his single.
3. Marco Antonio Regil | TV Host
Marco Antonio Regil is empowered as all get out, and in ways that aren’t exclusive to his famedom. He eats vegan at every meal to reduce his environmental impact and worked with TheSoilStory.com to raise awareness about carbon farming and petition the California Governor to make sustainable soil programs a part of their climate change initiatives.
Our elected officials work for us, and they want to hear from you. Speak up!
4. Nanette Barragán | U.S. Representative, California’s 44th District
Rep. Barragan reps most of south Los Angeles to Congress and is the chair to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ environmental task force. She isn’t all talk either. When she served on the Hermosa Beach City council, she fought (and won) to protect the Santa Monica Bay from oil drilling.
Let’s keep her in office, eh?
5. Kat Von D | Founder of Kat Von D Cosmetics
Kat Von D is making sustainable and sexy makeup accessible to beauty lovers everywhere. When animal agriculture contributes to more than half of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than all the trains, planes, and cars combined), saving the environment can begin on our plate.
6. Carlos Curbelo | U.S. Representative, Florida’s 26th District
Carlos Curbelo’s district encompasses Key West to Miami-Dade, and with that Florida coastline in serious jeopardy from rising ocean levels, he’s got his work cut out for him. That’s why he co-founded the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bi-partisan group in the House dedicated to protect their districts from the threat of climate change.
7. Vanessa Hauc | Reporter, Telemundo
For those of us getting our news from actual journalists with brains, you might recognize Vanessa Hauc from Telemundo. Knowing that climate change is an urgent issue, Hauc wanted to alert her viewers to its threats in a way they can understand. She pioneered five-minute story segments called “Alerta Verde” and co-founded the nonprofit Sachamama to cultivate a climate change discussion within the Latino community.
8. Jamie Margolin | Founder of This is Zero Hour
Colombian teenager Jamie Margolin is the Founder and President of This is Zero Hour, a “national movement mobilizing youth to protect a livable future.” She’s organizing The Youth Climate March for July 21st of this year.
Follow her @jamie_margolin and @thisiszerohour to support!
9. Patricia Espinosa C. | Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change
Patricia Espinosa C. is the current Ambassador of Mexico to Germany, and is also the leading the discussion with global leaders on how to protect at-risk communities from climate change.
Because, real talk, this envrionmental racism is real af–like when they build chemical plants in our neighborhoods, or when most folks working in the most dangerous work place (slaughterhouses) are undocumented and unable to advocate for themselves.
10. Elizabeth Yeampierre | Executive Director, UPROSE
Yeampierre self describes as “Racial & Climate Justice Movement Builder, ED @UPROSE, Decolonized Bk?? of African/Indigenous ancestry – climate justice is racial justice.” (UPROSE is Brooklyn’s oldest Latino organization.)
She was also the first Latina chair of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and opened for Pope Francis’ Climate Change Rally in 2015.
11. Yennifer Martinez | Manager of PETA Latino
Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico, Spain, and Miami, Martinez has blown PETA Latino up on the internet. Y’know, since Latinos care more about climate change than anyone else, they’re adopting vegan lifestyles quicker than any other group, and Martinez has the recetas, inspo and passion to propel our community forward.
In her own words, “To dissect the systematic and structural powers of oppression. That means breaking down barriers, not giving up, caring more than anyone else, and coming together to build a better world, one in which we don’t have to kill one another. One person can make a difference, but a group of dedicated people, working together. That makes an impact so large we just might change the course of the world.”
12. Adrianna Quintero | Executive Director, Voces Verdes
Voces Verdes is a coalition of Latino-owned businesses and organizations whose work aims to protect the nearly one out of every two Latinos who now live in the country’s top 25 most ozone-polluted cities. That stat coupled with the fact that Latinos are less likely to have health insurance than any other racial or ethnic group makes climate change a serious human rights issue and Quintero isn’t backing down from policymakers.
13. Dr. Sergio Rimola | Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Sergio Rimola is an OB in northern Virginia and leads the National Hispanic Medical Association. He tells Medium, “It is extremely important to raise awareness in our communities so they can become a strong voice and political power to persuade our legislators to support measures that protect the environment. For this to happen we need more Latino scientists, activists, politicians, doctors, concerned mothers, you name it, to join the movement.”
14. Christiana Figueres | Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
The precedent to Patricia Espinosa C. (slide 7), Figueres’ impact on the UN is significant. She was one of the major influencers of the Paris Agreement, you know, the one POTUS pulled out of. Since retiring, she actually hasn’t retired. She’s been heading up the Mission 2020 initiative.
In an interview with Positive.News, she shared, “Addressing climate change is an opportunity, and a catalyst for the kind of world we want to see. It is a catalyst for modernising our built environment, our agriculture system, our energy infrastructure, so they all perform to 21st century standards.”
15. Lydia Avila | Executive Director, Power Shift Network
The Power Shift Network aims to empower youth to advocate in their own communities for clean energy and environmental justice. Using grassroots initiatives, she believes that making a global impact begins at a local level and we couldn’t agree more.
16. Michael Anthony Mendez | Associate Research Scientist, Yale University
Mendez currently serves as a faculty fellow and research scientist at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and teaches courses on social equity and environmental policy. He’s also publishing a book this year, “Climate Change from the Streets,” which will look more in-depth to the narratives of climate change advocates.
In his own words, “Research and environmental policy are my passions; together as a community, we can innovate the city, economy, and our environments.”
17. Natalia Arias | Director of Programs, CLEO Institute
The CLEO Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to climate change education, engagement, and advocacy in local communities, specifically Miami. Arias heads up the programs offered which include connecting environmentally conscious business owners, teachers, students and offer basic trainings in what climate change even is.
18. Nicole Hernandez Hammer | Climate Science Advocate, Union of Concerned Scientists
Y’know how the oceans are rising? Well Hammer is a sea-level scientist who is studying how those changes will affect Latino communities on the coast. She was invited to sit next to Michelle Obama while President Obama delivered his State of the Union in 2015.
She told Newsweek, “Currently, in South Florida, we have tidal floods. The high tide combined with sea level rise causes tidal flooding. According to a Union of Concerned Scientists report on tides, by 2045 that will happen around 240 times a year. So that means we will have more days of flooding than non-flooding. That’s why I’m doing this.”
19. Juan Parras | Executive Director, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
Juan Parras grew up in Big Spring, Texas, during a time when there was a literal railroad track that divided white people from people of color. When the town’s oil refinery exploded, the City of Big Spring had to use sewage treatment water for human consumption, and from there T.E.J.A.S. was born.
20. Yessenia Funes – Reporter, Earther
A poet and activist, Yessenia is a New York-based journalist who reports on race and the environment exclusively. She’s currently covering the environmental justice beat for Earther. She just published a powerful piece titled, “The Puerto Rican Town Left to Stew in Toxic Waste.”
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