EarthMatters Tennessee and Urban Permaculture: Hope for 2001 and Beyond

Sizwe HerringAn Article by Sizwe Herring 1/1/01
An urban areas across the country, the gap between historically privileged and historically oppressed ethnic groups continues to exists and is manifesting in new areas. Beautiful yards, gardens, recycling bin and recycle drop offs are abundant in suburban neighborhoods and offices, they are virtually non existent in the in the inner-city.The environmental movement has failed to capture the attention of the nation’s racially and economically oppressed groups, partially because these people are for most concerned with practical issues of survival on an immediate, day today, basis. This community of individuals are facing modern-day genocide; constant attacks on their self-esteem and their ability to direct their own lives. African Americans and other ethnic groups have a little time to consider the problems of pollution ecology and environment. These children youth and families often suffer from a kind of stunted consciousness that prevents them from experiencing their connectedness, to not only other people, but to the natural forces of nature and their surroundings.

The psychological isolation is very effective in locking racially and economically oppressed group’s into their present circumstances. It keeps them from economic and social self-improvement; it denies the chance for spiritual evolution; and most importantly, it keeps them from joining the movement with others to affect positive change. The people who pollute the air, rivers, oceans and land, who destroy forever, therainforest and wetlands, are the same people who pollute the minds, bodies and homes of inter-city residents with television, drugs, brutality, videos, and other constant barrages of negativity.In order to bring economically oppressed and people of color into the environmental movement, ecology must be seen as both an internal and external concept. Environmentalists must engage in an aggressive campaign to both create awareness and expand individual and collective consciousness. Urban residents have to be able to see and understand the inter connectedness of their personal struggles for survival and the struggles for example, of Indian cultures living in the dwindling rainforest of South America. Programs such as EarthMatters Tennessee and permaculture, that develop self empowerment and self preservation, have to be to disseminated to economically and racially oppressed people before they can take their place in the greater struggle to save our planet.

People of all color, all over the world, are known for their intimate relationship with the natural world and having maintained deep spiritual roots. The horrific experience of American slavery has complicated African-Americans psychological impact of agrarian and ecological lifestyles. Many believe that due to the forced, laborious work on the land, African Americans now abhor the concept of closeness with the earth and eco responsibility. Some go so far as to believe that “since we didn’t dirty the earth up, it will not be up to us to clean it up.” the majority populace in this country can get in touch with their spiritual essence by learning and working with the traditions, teachings, at historical practices of all land-based cultures.

Environmentalists and others need to learn the lessons of life that racially oppressed people have to impart. They need to come to the understanding that go beyond the sociology textbooks and information highways to develop true appreciation which is crucial true cooperation.This is the challenge facing the environmental movement and until it is met environmentalist can claim only symbolic victory on behalf Mother Earth. Historic baggage that comes with this issue can be overcome with “green” people from all cultures coming together to effectively deal with and uplift global ecological issues.