Black History Month is a time to reflect on the legacy of Black Americans throughout history and celebrate the countless ways in which they have contributed to our society. From art and music to science and politics, Black Americans have made remarkable strides in every field. One area in which Black Americans have played a particularly vital role is environmentalism. 

In a recent Vogue article, environmentalist Leah Thomas made a powerful statement: “All my environmental heroes are Black women.” She’s not alone in her recognition of the pivotal role that Black women have played in shaping the future of environmentalism. Intersectional environmentalism is a movement that recognizes the interconnectedness of social and environmental justice, and the need for diverse perspectives and voices in driving positive change.

Intersectional environmentalism is a concept that was coined by Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, who has spoken extensively on the need to address the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups. At its core, intersectional environmentalism acknowledges that environmental issues are not experienced equally across all communities. Marginalized groups, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), low-income communities, and women, are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues, due to systemic barriers to access and representation. This means that efforts to address environmental issues must be intersectional in nature. The goal is to create solutions that address the unique needs and perspectives of marginalized groups, and work towards a more equitable and sustainable future for all. 

Black women have played a particularly vital role in the intersectional environmentalism movement. They have been at the forefront of a wide range of environmental initiatives, from climate activism to community-based conservation efforts. Their contributions are truly invaluable, and they have shown that a more inclusive and diverse approach to environmentalism can lead to meaningful progress.

One example of this is the work of Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and policy expert who has been a vocal advocate for intersectional environmentalism. In an interview with NPR, she spoke about the need to address the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups in the environmental movement. “If we’re going to talk about the ocean and the climate, we need to talk about the people,” she said. “We need to talk about the people who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and food security.” Dr. Johnson’s work highlights the importance of addressing the social and economic dimensions of environmental issues. By working with local communities and organizations, and advocating for policies that prioritize equity and inclusion, we can create solutions that benefit everyone.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we must continue to work towards a more equitable and just future. The intersectional environmentalism movement has taught us that we can achieve this by amplifying diverse perspectives and voices, and by recognizing the interconnectedness of social and environmental justice. At the Betancourt Group, we are committed to being part of the solution. 

We believe that the key to achieving positive social and environmental impact is by working together and amplifying diverse perspectives. Our team is dedicated to creating comprehensive communication and marketing strategies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. By partnering with organizations that share our values, we can help bring diverse perspectives to the forefront, and empower underrepresented communities to lead the way toward a more sustainable future.