It is crucial that we understand what is happening to our communities as a result of our environment.
Meet Michelle Mabson a Staff Scientist for the Healthy Communities program at Earth Justice and Director of Strategic Alliances at Black Millennials 4 Flint.
Prior to joining Earthjustice, Michelle worked in the Office of Children’s Health Protection at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she served as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellow.
Michelle received a dual Master’s of Public Health & Master’s of Science from the University of Michigan, and a biology degree from Howard University. While at UM, she also earned a graduate certificate in risk science and human health and served as a graduate student instructor teaching the principles of environmental justice. Michelle’s research experience has taken her to Morelos, Mexico, and Mumbai, India, among other places, to address issues ranging from children’s environmental health to sediment changes in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
On the Importance of communities of color understanding what is happening as it relates to the environment
Far too often, it is our communities – Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities – that bare the burden of unclean water and dirty air. It is our communities that suffer from higher rates of asthma and die most often from heart attacks, a direct consequence of breathing in dirty air. It is our communities that are devastated when superstorms like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria hit, leaving us to pick up the pieces for many years to come, over and over again.
In Spartanburg, South Carolina, a predominantly black city leveraged $20k in an environmental justice grant from EPA to more than $270 million in investments in the community. This is a city that had superfund sites, a chemical plant, contaminated soil and toxic chemical waste, abound. It is now a national leader on environmental justice issues. The city organized around the environmental, health, and economic issues that plagued the community and today, sites have been cleaned up, soil replaced, and community health centers opened, and solar energy powering homes across the city. True community revitalization is possible and it’s incredible when we highlight it. Successes like this must be replicated in our communities across this country.
On the role multicultural women can play in advocating for their communities
When women stand up and advocate for our communities, we move mountains. Communities across the country are already being led by fierce and tenacious women, many of whom are older, and they are fighting tirelessly against powerful industries every single day. I believe that we have a civic duty to participate in the decision-making process. I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning about what’s happening in their own community to get involved in these matters to the extent that they have the capacity. Use your skills. Whether it’s in communication, organizing, media, finance, or law, there absolutely is a role for more women to share their gifts to combat injustices. Our decision makers are obligated to engage with us and we must hold them accountable. And we must vote them out if we find that they do not have our best interest at heart.
This campaign is sponsored by the Clean Water for All Campaign.