Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Change Agents

The election of Barack Obama is truely one of the greatest moments in American history. As he prepares to embark on one of the toughest jobs in the world, Barack Obama has done something even greater with the people he has chosen to serve in his cabinet by nominating Lisa Jackson to serve as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. This is a very big deal because she, like Barack Obama is black and, if confirmed, would be the first black Adminstrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The fact that Lisa Jackson is black is one thing, but I truely believe the fact that she grew up in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans, is something even greater. No one can deny that what happened to the people of the lower ninth ward, and all of New Orleans for that matter, during hurricane Katrina was horrific. But what has happened to them after Katrina in terms of environmental injustice is a tragedy.

Since Katrina is no longer front page news, we have turned a blind eye to the environmental impacts on the people of New Orleans. Residents still have to ask themselves; is the soil clean enough to build my house on, can this happen again, are they going to redevelop my neighborhood for someone else? And politically the silence is almost deafening (when was the last time you saw a bill/law/legislation that even mentioned Katrina?).

I refuse to set myself up to think that Lisa Jackson will be the savor of all evironmental issues. I don't for a moment think that she will welcome all the Siera Clubs of the world into EPA for a "tell me whatever you want and I'll do it" meeting, or appoint Al Gore as her confidant, or reduce the size of the hole in the ozone layer. It's just not possible because she is a POLITICAL appointee. But I do hope that Lisa will galvanize us brown people and make us a little more green for the environment and for our fellow brown people.

Each one, teach one.

This is such a historical time, our children must know that they are a part of history. Please, teach the children well!