Race, Poverty, and the Environment
To have any hope of solving the twin crises of accelerating environmental degradation and growing economic inequality, we have to reimagine some fundamental assumptions in both the domestic and economic spheres: What is work? What is leisure? What is labor performed in our homes? How, as a society, do we organize our domestic and work lives so that we can meet our fundamental material and cultural needs?
Cooperative work places have long experience in organizing democratic governance for the means of production, but we need to move beyond industrial-era understandings of social relations. Democratizing the means of reproduction—the social sphere in which we meet the needs for education, health care, and domestic work—is an urgent task that can make another world possible.
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Carl Anthony co-founded Race, Poverty and the Environment in 1990. In this interview with RP&E editor B. Jesse Clarke, Anthony shares his reflections on some of the key milestones that led to the creation of the Journal and its role in the ever-evolving environmental justice movement. Recorded at the studios of the National Radio Project, this interview introduces Radio RP&E—Podcasts and Broadcasts from the national journal of social and environmental justice. Read an edited excerpt below or listen to the full interview.
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Download the mp3. Or use this ITunes link.
Jesse Clarke: Can you talk a little bit about where the environmental movement was on Earth Day 1970?
Carl Anthony: Earth Day 1970 was started, in part, as a result of the work of Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring in 1962. That book and similar research on the effects of DDT sparked a growing interest in the environment that went beyond protecting wildlife and open spaces. In some ways, it was paradoxical, because it became a powerful protest movement that was also distancing itself from issues of race and social justice.
Some proponents of environmentalism sought to use it to put a closure on the struggles of the 1960s and launch a new kind of consciousness about the earth and the environment, without really addressing issues of social and racial justice. But in fact, all these movements were interrelated. Many people, for innumerable reasons, were really upset with the dominant society and the way in which it was destroying both culture and places. Indeed, the new environmental movement owed something to the civil rights movement.
Next editorial convening on April 24 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Movement Strategy Center, 436 14th St., Suite 500, Oakland. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.orgMore than 50 people from 28 different organizations joined us for the re-launch on March 27. Our opening panel (RP&E Editor Emeritus Carl Anthony, APEN Executive Director Miya Yoshitani, CCHO co-director Fernando Marti, and Reimagine Project Director Jess Clarke) grounded us in our shared history and affirmed the need we see for this project.
“The environmental movement has introduced the concept of deep history,” Carl Anthony said. “We’re the end point of 13.7 billion years of life on this planet, and we need to begin thinking of that as our heritage,” he said. Fast-forwarding, he noted the great displacement of African Americans with the transatlantic slave trade—somewhere between 7.5 and 12 million African slaves crossed the Atlantic between 1500 and 1800, compared to around 1.5 million Europeans. Slavery, along with the genocide of Native Americans, was part of the expansion of the global economy, “this capitalism we struggle with,” the system underlying the toxic racism and regional inequities RP&E has spotlighted since its first issue 24 years ago.
March 27, 6:30 pm at the East Bay Community Foundation
Cofounder of Urban Habitat and Breakthrough Communities
Executive director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Co-director Council of Community Housing Organizations
Jess Clarke (Moderator)
We will break out into facilitated subgroups on specific topics, to shape the editorial content of the Reimagined RP&E.
Please RSVP: email@example.com Feel free to share why you think it's vital for movements to make media and topics you would like to address.
Individuals who would like to join our host committee are also welcome. Please visit our indiegogo page for more information.
Light refreshments will be served. The discussion will be followed by a reception to celebrate and reconnect the RP&E community.
This event is co-sponsored by the Center on Race Poverty and the Environment (CRPE), Urban Habitat (UH), Movement Strategy Center (MSC), and Making Contect; with the participation of: Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) Breakthrough Communities, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), California for Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), Center on Race Poverty and the Environment (CRPE), Center for Story-Based Strategy (CSS), Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Data Center, Earth House Leadership Center, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ), Making Contact , Marin Grassroots, Media Alliance (MA), Movement Generation (MG), Movement Strategy Center (MSC), Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), People Organized to Demand Economic and Environmental Rights (PODER), People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), Public Advocates (PA), Urban Habitat (UH), Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), and others.
If you would like to add your organization please contact us or visit our indiegogo.com page where you can endorse and contribute or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oakland, California (February 25, 2014) The Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE), Urban Habitat (UH), and the Movement Strategy Center (MSC) today announced the launch of a new collaborative publishing endeavor—Reimagine! —which will be the new home of Race, Poverty & the Environment (RP&E), the national journal of social and environmental justice.
Teachers, students, and parents across the United States are experiencing wrenching changes in our system of education—from the way schools are run, to who gets to teach, and what may be taught. As students are robbed of meaningful learning and time for play or creativity—in short, anything that’s not tested—hostile politicians blame teachers for an astounding list of social and economic ills ranging from unemployment to moral decline.
In all but the wealthiest school systems in the United States, academic accomplishment has been reduced to scores on standardized tests developed and evaluated by for-profit companies. Parents, teachers, and students—education’s most important stakeholders—have little say in what is taught, while corporate chiefs, politicians in their thrall, and foundations that receive funding from billionaires who profit from pro-business education policies determine the substance of education. While almost every country in the world has experienced this chilling form of social engineering, in the U.S. it is sold to the public as essential to raising educational standards—making individuals and the nation economically competitive.
About five years ago, more than anything, I wanted to be a journalist who truly represented the voice of the people. A job at a corporate, mainstream publication never appealed to me. Today, I’m honored to have worked as the web and design editor for Race, Poverty & the Environment, a journal that has mirrored my passion for a myriad of issues in the realm of social and environmental justice. And it’s also great being able to say, I worked for Urban Habitat, “an organization that builds power in low-income communities and communities of color.“
But for 2013, I want to do more. It was Grace Lee Boggs that said, ”How we change the world and how we think about changing the world has to change.”
Over the last several months, I’ve really come to understand the wisdom of her words. “The time has come for us to reimagine everything. We have to reimagine work and go away from labor. We have to reimagine revolution and get beyond protest. We have to think not only about the change in our institutions but the changes we need to make in ourselves.” (Boggs).
Another world is possible: a world that exceeds the confines of corporate institutions, the non-profit sector, and the current political system. A world that puts the needs, and the basic rights of ALL people at the forefront—no matter race, class, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. From the rights of domestic workers, immigrants, women, people of color, and low-income people, to LGBT, teachers, students, workers… and the lists goes on. Selma James (p. 68) observes that our current model of work, “the activity women and men are forced to perform in order to survive… saps our time our energy and our life.“
Dorothy Kidd's work appears regularly in the academic, popular left, and social movement press. A professor at the department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco, she has been organizing at the interface of the community and university for 13 years. A media and feminist activist since the early 1970s, she has been producing media, studying the role of the dominant corporate media, and circulating accounts about radical alternative media since that time. She was interviewed in the studios of Radio RP&E.
B. Jesse Clarke: Women’s rights to equal pay, health care, and even contraception were under attack in the 2012 election campaigns. What isn’t much discussed is where and when these rights were won. What were feminist activists struggling for in the ‘60s and ‘70s? What were the issues, and how were they pushing to bring equal rights to women?
Dorothy Kidd: The first thing to say is that there wasn’t a uniform feminist movement. The feminist movement that my students read about is the movement of professional and business women to get seats at the table with the ruling class and large corporations. To some degree they’ve succeeded, so we see more women in boardrooms, more women in politics. (Not as much here as in Europe, Canada, or Australia, but progress has been made.) That was not the aim of the women’s groups I was involved in in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
As a feminist activist, writer, and teacher, Silvia Federici engages and inspires students of all ages to fight for the liberation of women and all beings. In 1972, Federici cofounded the International Feminist Collective, which launched the “Wages For Housework” campaign. While teaching and researching in Nigeria in the 1980s, she observed the specific impacts of globalization on women—and their similarities to the social disruption caused by the enclosure of the commons in the earliest days of capitalism. She became active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death-penalty movement, and cofounded the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. From 1987 to 2005 she taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Her books and essays span philosophy, feminist theory, women’s history, education, and culture, and more recently, the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body and Primitive Accumulation, perhaps her best-known work, argues that capitalism depends on a constant supply of women’s unwaged labor. Federici sat down for this interview while she was on a tour to promote her new book, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Common Notions), a collection of essays written over the last forty years. In conversation, Federici moves smoothly between history, theory, and present struggles, hardly stopping for breath, almost vibrating with concern and indignation.