Climate change is slow violence against Black people

In February, more than 700 people died during and after the winter storm that ravaged the Gulf South. Analysis suggests that more than half of the households impacted were Black.

The Smile Trust, with the support of the Movement for Black Lives, is releasing the 2021 Arctic Blast Report, which analyzes how the fossil-fuel industry created the perfect storm that left Black people across Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi living in dire, inhumane conditions. February’s storm left people stranded inside their homes without heat, food, and water—forcing them to burn furniture and take other desperate measures to stay warm in freezing temperatures.

The U.S. has been the top producer of carbon dioxide since 1750 and is responsible for up to 47% of all global greenhouse emissions, primarily through the use of fossil fuels. During the February storm, fossil fuels, a resource that the U.S deemed necessary to provide energy, left nearly 5 million people without power and 16 million people under boil-water advisories.

The climate crisis is compounding for Black communities, impacting our health, housing, and pockets. Federal and local governments are behind in solving climate change, and extreme weather routinely exhausts our energy systems while the cost of power surges is forced onto everyday people. Black people are already stretched thin during the pandemic, as increased utility costs and unpaid utility bills can lead to foreclosure and eviction.

The fossil-fuel industry is also the primary investor in voting restrictions and anti-protest and anti-LGBT legislation. It also capitalizes on mass incarceration by using unpaid prison labor to prepare for and clean up after extreme weather events, which are increasing in frequency because of climate change.

We need your help to create and demand policy that centers Black people who are on the frontlines of climate change. As a part of our Vision for Black Lives, we demand reparations for the environmental atrocities committed against Black communities. We demand that community safety also include climate and environmental protections against fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. Join us in our demands by getting involved with the Red, Black, and Green New Deal.

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