Makin' Home Sweet.
I've been in our new place for one week, and am getting used to the difference between urban and suburban life. One of the most noticeable changes I've enjoyed is waking up to the song of birds, instead of trucks and bucket-drums :-) As I get more settled, and as Spring emerges, I'm excited to share more earth-loving tips + inspiration with you. While I finish unpacking, though, this episode is based on an article I wrote that was originally published in the now gone, but not forgotten, Mindful Metropolis magazine:
Black + Green.
There's a perception that black people are outside the environmental movement. Black Americans—together with Native Americans—were, in fact, the original environmentalists in North America. Long before there were threats of climate change, we were recycling food, foil and fabrics. Reusing scraps, containers and paper.
We grew what we ate, and we made what we wore. Reducing waste was easy, because there was no excess to waste. We practiced renewable and sustainable living not as an opt-in luxury, but as a very real necessity. We were as green as the string beans we snapped... ’til we went and got too fancy to enjoy being outdoors, and we seem to have forgotten about our practical closeness with Earth.
A voice helps us remember that closeness.
Jamal Ali's book, Black and Green: Black Insights for the Green Movement, helps us appreciate the resourceful and innovative ways our parents and grandparents walked lightly. It's a strong and steady message that demystifies "going green," and shows that this is our movement, too. And, it needs our bold and broad reclamation of it. Consider how our immediate needs are all wrapped up in environmental issues, including:
» Our most pressing health concerns—heart disease, obesity, diabetes and asthma—are directly related to environmental and food disparities. According to Ali, “When we see our bodies as temples, we will show far greater concern for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.”
» The crime concentrated in black communities, which is directly related to how we perceive our surroundings. Our surroundings are an extension of our very selves. What does that say about the excessive violence, dumpsites and vacant lots common in many of our neighborhoods?
» The unemployment concentrated in black communities, which can be dramatically alleviated by the growing renewable energy and energy efficiency industries that need workers and leaders now.
The green movement is most certainly a part of the black experience. It's up to us to make sure our experience is rightly reflected in the movement.
Oh, mercy mercy me. Oh, things ain’t what they used to be. No, no.
Ali remembers growing up with the epic Marvin Gaye song “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” as well as regular reminders from his father to not light the entire house, while being in one room at a time. Those messages took root. Paying it forward, Ali and his wife Rosalind are raising their two children with keen environmental awareness and the clarity that they are more than consumers. The family composts, drives a hybrid, has a tankless water heater, installed CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) throughout their house, washes their clothes in cold water in a high-efficiency washing machine and cuts T-shirts to replace lunchbox napkins and paper towels, among other eco-friendly lifestyle habits.
Ali believes being a consistent, unwavering example is the best way to share green practices. He doesn't limit his influence to home, or his kids' schools, where he often speaks. He is currently in dialogue (emphasizing the reduction of operating costs) with the office manager at the ad agency where he works as an account director to have air dryers installed in the bathroom.
Adding vitality and beauty to our environment makes it less hospitable to violence and waste. Ali is also a community revitalizer, and he credits his biggest inspiration in that work to Elijah Muhammad. Ali says, "Muhammad brought a message to a people who had been discarded and taught they were worthless, but he refused to settle for this position, and found a reuse for them teaching their very own kinship to God."
Get Jamal Ali's book here.
Questions About Introversion + Inner Life?
With the move behind me, my creative focus is now on finishing "It's Beautiful Inside: An Introvert's Right to BE." This aspect of personality has gotten a lot of press in recent years, and I have no intention of repeating what's already been said.
Interiority and the (un)cultivated inner life has direct impact on our economic, ecological + emotional well-being. So these points will be looked at as the interconnected whole that they are, as well as the criminalized relationship between psychoactive plants (entheogens) and people, the effects of socialized superficiality, what it takes to live and work as Your True Self in a world that still loves masks + conformity, and other topics related to inwardness that are ready for mature exploration. Do you have any questions or comments you'd like addressed? Please let me know in the comments, as I'd love to include your views + voice.