Rev. Meredith Garmon
Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom, eds., Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.Available from UUA Bookstore HERE; from Amazon HERE.
This week, chapter 1: Jennifer Nordstrom, "Intersectionality, Faith, and Environmental Justice."
The word "intersectional" is big these days among people thinking about social justice. The word calls attention to how interrelated the various justice issues are. Nordstrom opens with mention of a 10-day "direct action and permaculture training camp" she attended in New Mexico to simultaneously learn sustainability and "build resistance to white supremacy and militarism." Growing food and growing cross-cultural relationships of equality and respect at the same time is one manifestation of "intersectionality."
The overlap of issues calls attention to the commonalities, but also the differences:
"For example, women will experience sexism differently depending on their race, class, gender identity, and sexuality. People of color will experience racism differently based on their class, gender, gender identity, and sexuality."In particular, Justice on Earth looks at Environmental Justice through the lens of intersectionality -- this is, in light of interconnecting systems. Nordstrom shares her experience learning that
"communities of color were exploited and poisoned through the entire nuclear fuel cycle: from uranium mining on Indigenous lands to nuclear weapons production on Indigenous land and the contamination of surrounding Indigenous, Chicano, and Latinx communities to nuclear waste storage in communities of color."Thus, militarism, colonialism, racism, and the environment interrelate.
We are thus lead to see that "the environment" "is not simply natural wilderness in need of saving" -- as UUs are prone to view it. It is also roads, industries, urban trees, other people -- everything around us, and all of it shaped by patterns of power.
"There is not a single experience of the environment divorced from other relationships, or a single experience of humanity divorced from the environment."For too long UUs have done "justice work in silos" -- an approach that "is not true to our whole lives, or to the wholeness of other people." When we ignore intersectionality, our work "usually caters to the dominant identities within the issue."
Yet, Nordstrom argues, as important as intersectionality is, equally powerful for us is faith. Our faith as UUs "can ground and nurture our work for environmental justice." Our situatedness in the interdependent web is our "call of the deep to the well of" our souls.
Related and Recommended: Kimberle Crenshaw's Keynote address to the Women of the World Festival 2016.(30 mins) HERE.
- What overlapping patterns of power and oppression have you experienced in your own life?
- How have they manifested in the institutions in which you live and work?
- How have they affected your experience of you own identity?
- What do you know of environmental justice organizations active in Westchester?