I was honored to have been asked to perform at an event yesterday. The theme was, Environmental Justice. This is what I wrote (and performed):
Some of us, at one point in life or the other may have heard scathing derogatory remarks levelled at us. Remarks such as, “You’re nothing” “You’ll never amount to anything!” “You’re just like your damn father” “I wish I never had you!” Damaging remarks from the lips and soul of those we first looked to, to love us. To protect us. To nurture us. Remarks that shaped us and brought us to the places inside we visit often. Those places where some of us live.
That’s in our homes.
To get to our schools – those of us that did get to go – we were sometimes forced to navigate hallways, alleyways and streets that were littered with the evidence of hopelessness, despair, anger and waste. From our formative years, we are given the proof that reinforced the words passed down to us from a long line of those that may or may not look like us; but who most certainly ensured we were given the language that mirrored generations of hope and helplessness. Our schools bore noticeable differences from those other schools; so those of us with televisions got to see the differences between them and us – the faces that only bore resemblance to ours in years; but with lives and opportunities that were years apart and ahead.
That’s in our communities.
If poverty, hopelessness, violence and despair didn’t get us, we grew up. Listen… according to God’s law, we are all entitled to be raised; but the truth is, some of us just grew up. We learned to survive. But we are here. We work; or not. We prosper; or not. We love; or not. We identify; or not. We thrive. Okay… maybe sometimes not. But, we are here. So, we learn behaviors that create cycles that can defy our breaking. We learn to emulate that which we hate because we know no better. We become those that have battered us – with their words, their ignorance, their limitations, with their fists. We begin to look in our mirrors, but see them reflected there. We learn to validate their truth as our own.
That’s in our hearts.
We wade through water shortages, pollutions and contaminations… only in our communities however. They shame us by highlighting our obesity; yet they put the healthy options outside both our price and geographic ranges. We are mocked for celebrating our culture; yet they perpetuate in us a culture of crime, despair and fatherlessness. We become our own worst enemy, even as they validate the propaganda that we are their enemy.
That’s in our souls.
We only need to turn on the news, read a newspaper or listen to a political campaign to read or hear about what’s happening to our environment. Global warming dominates everyone’s agendas. The water shortage is projected to impact us severely enough for water to be treated just as oil and gold have been. The planet is being over populated and is running out of space for us all. All true. And, very important. But closer to home… in our homes, that’s the environment that’s at the top of my list. I find myself more concerned by what’s happening IN our environment, as opposed to what’s happening TO our environment. The day-to-day happenings that shape us then fault us as we are unleashed on an unsuspecting, ill-prepared world. The words, actions and inaction that set us up for lives that offer us less than we are entitled to. The opportunities that are not presented to us because of our skin colors, sex, sexual identification or orientation. Those opportunities we cannot even recognize as our right. The environment that sets us up… for less than, for inadequacy… for legacies that continue for too many generations.
That’s in our world.
You see, “I don’t want to protect the environment. I want to create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting…”