Last Thursday night I went to a panel discussion at the New York Society for Ethical Culture entitled "People of Color Don't Care About the Environment."
Sponsored by Uptown Mag, the panel was moderated by this fly sister Simran Sethi
of the Sundance Channel's The Green. She was on point with her questions and comments
especially her criticism of Vanity Fair's recent mostly-whites-featured Green issue
. Even though I haven't seen the latest issue of Uptown I think this month's jawn is their urban (read Black) spin on the environment and going Green. Anyway the discussion was ambitious and well intentioned, it's just that afterwards you just couldn't help but have this keep it real feeling reverberating in your mind that the hood ain't going green anytime soon. At least I don't think so. And by the many heads I saw nodding when the woman asked how do we do connect recycling and beautifying the earth with folk who are struggling to pay their rent and make ends meet, I'm gathering I'm not the only one with that sentiment. There just seems to be so many other issues going on in this country that I just don't think people of color feel, unfortunately so, that the environment-- the greening of the world at large is relevant. I live in a building that is mixed with working class, middle class and upper class educated colored (and white) folk and do you think we recycle? Nope.
Not a blue bag or bin on the premises. Right now one of our concerns is that Columbia keeps their gentrifying hands off of our apartments. And then when I walk outside and I see the chicken bones thrown about the sidewalks and the synthetic hair blowing pass storefronts, I'm disgusted and know that folks in my hood are very far away from thinking about nature and land preservation. So many of them don’t even respect their own walk-ups and elevators as the ubiquitous, penetrating smell of piss will undoubtedly confirm. Is it just me and my cynicism or do we need to get hiphop on board the Green boat before we can expect to see change in our urban areas. And it cannot simply be a few (Russell Simmons, Erykah Badu and dead prez), but it’s gotta be infused in the culture as a whole. And what's going on in our public schools? I don't have children so I have no idea if eco-friendly ideals are being taught and discussed.
On a positive note there are quite a few heads in NYC (esp in the BX-- oh yeah!)taking charge and doing their part to save our earth like Jarid Manos
(who was on the panel) and who has written a very intriguing book called Ghetto Plainsman.
There's also Zena Nelson's South Bronx Food Cooperative
that's getting people hooked on eating organic and at very reasonable prices.
I gotta give propos to the folks behind The Go Green East Harlem Cookbook
And of course there is Majora Carter, also in the South Bronx, who won a MacArthur Genius award for her work "greening the ghetto." (her talk @TED conference
Simran Sethi was not
critical of Vanity Fair's Green Issue. She was instead "proud and grateful (to be) featured - as a woman of color and as a person who cares deeply about these issues." Read more of her remarks in the comments section. Sorry Simran about the confusion!
Labels: Green, media, Uptown Magazine