“As Long As The Grass Grows”, by Dina Gilio-Whitaker, plus climate crusaders, Dr. Beverly Wright and Marjorie Richard!
“As Long As The Grass Grows”, By Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Climate Crusaders–Dr. Beverly Wright & Marjorie Richard
“AS LONG AS THE GRASS GROWS,” BY DINA GILIO-WHITAKER
Dina Gilio-Whitaker is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes of North Central Washington State. She’s also the author of As Long as the Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock.
In it, she chronicles the struggles, resilience, and resistance of Indigenous people throughout America’s colonial history. Gilio-Whitaker, is a journalist, educator, surfer, along with being a descendant of the Colville Confederated Tribes. In her seminal work, she sheds light on America’s contradictions–namely, the imperialist narrative of “progress” as a catalyst for ecocide and cultural genocide of American Indians.
According to the publisher, As Long as Grass Grows is a powerful call to action for the decolonization and indigenization of Environmental Justice. Gilio-Whitaker challenges us as readers to consider the ongoing impact of colonization in the fight for an equitable future, and emphasizes the need to center Indigenous leaders, support Indigenous sovereignty, and return land to communities. This book is an important read for anyone engaged in the environmental movement or interested in learning about the struggles and resilience of Indigenous peoples in the United States.
Why does As Long as the Grass Grows matter to us? As theJournal of Political Ecology wrote, “Gilio-Whitaker’s far-reaching work creates a compelling foundation upon which to add specific examples of the ongoing struggle for environmental justice and Indigenous rights during times of anthropogenic climate change.”
Or as Jace Weaver, author of Defending Mother Earth, said of it, “From Standing Rock’s stand against a damaging pipeline to antinuclear and climate change activism, Indigenous peoples have always been and remain in the vanguard of the struggle for environmental justice. As Long as Grass Grows could not be of more relevance in the twenty-first century. Gilio-Whitaker has produced a sweeping history of these peoples’ fight for our fragile planet, from colonization to the present moment. There is nothing else like it. Read and heed this book.”
MEET CLIMATE CRUSADER, DR. BEVERLY WRIGHT
Dr. Beverly L. Wright is an environmental justice scholar, advocate, author, civic leader, professor of Sociology, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), the first-ever environmental justice center in the United States. Under the Biden administration, Dr. Wright was appointed to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, where she advises on how the federal government can address current and historic environmental injustices.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Dr. Wright has experienced and witnessed the polluting effects of Cancer Alley–an 85-mile stretch of land between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is home to over 150 petrochemical plants and refineries– her entire life. Through decades of research and community organizing she found the effects of polluting industries were only made worse by the absence of community input. She developed the “communiversity model”, a partnership between communities and universities that integrates community concerns and real-life experiences into research and policymaking for academic educators and researchers.
Under her guidance, DSCEJ has addressed environmental and health inequities along the Mississippi River and coastal regions of Louisiana for two decades while providing education, health and safety training and job placement for residents in communities impacted by climate change. The Center also developed the first ever environmental justice map to show the connection between race and pollutants, which became the basis for how the EPA determines environmental justice communities to be eligible for funding.
Why does Dr. Beverly Wright matter to us? Because she’s a badass. Dynamic Visionary. Thought Leader. Advocate. Champion for Justice. Mother. Happy Women’s History Month.
MEET CLIMATE CRUSADER, MARJORIE RICHARD
Marjorie Richard is the first African-American to win the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2004. The Goldman Environmental Prize honors ordinary people who take extraordinary actions to protect our planet. Margie Richard fits the bill. She grew up in the historically African-American neighborhood of Old Diamond in Norco, Louisiana, in a house just 25 feet away from Shell Chemicals plant’s fence line.
According to Richard, the defining moment which convinced her to become an activist occurred in 1973 when a Shell pipeline exploded, knocking one house off its foundation and killing an elderly woman and a teenage boy who was mowing the lawn. In 1989, Richard, then a middle school teacher, founded Concerned Citizens of Norco to seek justice from Shell in the form of fair and just resettlement costs for her family and her neighbors.
Over the next 13 years, Richard led a community campaign that was equal parts hard science, grassroots organizing and media savvy. A master of political theater, Richard installed a Web camera in her trailer home to broadcast live feeds of the refinery spewing petrochemical byproducts. While speaking at an international environmental conference, Richard approached Shell officials and invited them to take a sniff from a bag filled with air from her hometown of Norco, LA.
She joined forces with environmentalists and researchers to release a report that showed that the Shell refinery in Norco releases more than 2 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air each year.Why does Margie Richard matter to us? Her actions secured an agreement from Shell Chemical to reduce its toxic emissions by 30 percent, contribute $5 million to a community development fund, and finance relocation of her Old Diamond neighbors in Louisiana.