La Nueva Revoluci?n

Plenty of reports have detailed the ways in which minorities are
left to bear the brunt of environmental degradation. Landfills and
garbage incinerators are more likely to show up in minority
communities than in others across the United States. Air pollution
violations spike in many of these neighborhoods, taking a toll on
residents’ health, particularly children’s. And then there’s access
to green spaces, or lack thereof. Writing for
Los Angeles Alternative, Evan George
reports that some Latinos aren’t waiting for the environmental
movement to address their concerns. Instead, they’re forging
ahead with their own green revolution. ‘For so long we wanted to
have a place at the table in the environmental movement,’ says
Irma Muñoz, founder of Mujeres de la Tierra (Mothers of the
Earth). ‘We knew that wasn’t happening, so we built our own
table.’

Muñoz started Mujeres de la Tierra after a local news story on
environmental issues in Latino neighborhoods failed to feature any
interviews with Latinos. The Los Angeles-based group banded
together with Latino soccer enthusiasts, law experts, and others to
form Alianza de los Pueblos del Rio. The aim of this umbrella
organization is to get the Latino voice heard in the effort to
revitalize the Los Angeles River, which, George writes, is ‘a
symbolic and literal convergence of a myriad of issues confronting
LA’s Latino population.’ With an inverse correlation between
pollution exposure and access to parks and open spaces, the
mujeres have adopted the river’s resurrection as their
hope for a greener future and a healthier environment for their
children.

While small organizations are popping up in Latino populations
across the country, Ivan Mejia reports in
Hispanic Business that the National
Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC) is bringing these concerns
to a larger arena. Founded by Roger Rivera in 1996, NHEC was
created to speak for Latinos when they ‘had no place in national
ecological politics.’ The organization champions Latinos’ rights
to clean air, clean water, and other basic rights that all
Americans should enjoy.

The efforts by these groups have raised the visibility of
Hispanics in the American environmental movement as of late, but
Latino leaders point out that they’ve long been fighting for green
causes. ‘The only time we get quoted is when it comes to
immigration, and that’s very bothersome to me because what happens
is you get stereotyped as only caring about a single issue, and
that’s furthest from the truth,’ says Muñoz. The present green
crusade can be traced back to the indigenous roots of many Latinos,
which is why Muñoz calls them ‘the original environmentalists.’

Go there >>
Browning the Green Movement

Go there too >>
Activist Raises Environmental Awareness Among US
Hispanics

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