Reflections on Environmental Justice from the YEA! MN Network Meeting

kyliaporterLast month, I was invited to participate in a YEA! MN meeting that convened those who wanted action and more of an understanding on the meaning of Environmental Justice. In this meeting, I shared a personal connection to the injustice I see in my community, North Minneapolis:

Earlier this year, I attended the Bernie Sanders forum that was held at my school – Patrick Henry High School. A woman stood up to ask for Bernie’s response and views on the environmental injustice happening in North Minneapolis, which was affecting the health, education, and recreational activities of her son. She explained that her son had been hospitalized for his asthma, which was worsening due to the polluted air he was breathing in daily. She connected his condition with the huge garbage incinerator right outside of North Minneapolis that burns most of the city’s trash and blows its waste in the direction of her neighborhood. North Minneapolis residents are breathing in that pollution and the health problems that come with it.

I connected with her question, since I have also noticed the widespread distribution of nebulizers in my neighborhood, which were given to many kids I went to school with including myself as a younger child. We used to compare our nebulizers at school to see who had the best. To me, this speaks of the desensitization among families that are being affected by the pollution they are breathing in; many are not aware of how it was truly affecting us. It feels as if our needs as a inner city community are being put on the back burner.

The meeting at YEA! MN gave me a sense of validation – that there are people who are aware and actually feel for the people like me who felt as if no one did. And I love the message that YEA! MN pushes for: we must all set our differences aside, and see that Environmental Justice is something that should be a part of everyone’s life, because it is something that affects every one of us. Earth is our common home, and we should want to take care of our home.

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