Saving The Planet - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

When racial discrimination and inadequate education are immediate worries for African Americans, environmental welfare isn’t a priority — or so says the stereotype. But “Dispelling Old Myths: African American Concern for the Environment,” a report published in the June 2003 issue of Environment magazine, disproves many of these assumptions.

According to a study conducted in the Detroit metropolitan area, 23% more blacks than whites cited neighborhood environmental problems as among their most significant concerns. Although whites mentioned global environmental concerns 16% more often than blacks, most of their responses were in regard to ozone depletion, which results in skin cancer, a disease that affects whites disproportionately more than African Americans.

Paul Mohai, the author of the report and an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, says, “There is so much evidence [that blacks] are concerned [about the environment]. Unfortunately, those concerns have been invisible to the majority of Americans and [to] traditional environmentalists.”

African American environmental concerns may be a result of the poorer environmental conditions in which many blacks live. But there is no statistical difference between the way blacks and whites rate the seriousness of nature preservation issues, such as lack of open space, oil spills, and national park preservation. In some cases, when compared with white Americans, substantially higher percentages of African Americans rated rain forest extinction, acid rain, and the greenhouse effect as “very serious.” This negates the assumption that social issues affecting African Americans take precedent over their concerns about the environment. “The results are more than just a fluke,” says Mohai.

The report also explains that African Americans also take an active role in dealing with environmental issues. In 1980, protests by African Americans in Warren County, North Carolina, led campaigns to reduce hazardous pollution in the state inciting congress to pass the Superfund Act.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.