The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have ignited a long-overdue awakening amongst the white community, both here in the US, and around the world, about systemic & individual racism and police brutality.
As a business focused on the issues related to environmental toxicants, and their impact on human health, it’s important for me to highlight where issues of race and toxic exposures overlap.
It’s also important that you know where I stand on these issues so that you can decide if my business is for you.
I stand firmly against racism, and I will not tolerate, be associated with, or do business with people or organizations who exhibit racist beliefs, who make insensitive or racist comments regarding civil rights protests, police brutality, systemic racism, “all lives matter”, etc. If this stance does not align with your beliefs, I invite you to either keep reading so you can learn more about why I take this stand or navigate away from my website.
First, let me be clear: very few people actually want to consider themselves racist. Instead we like to say things like “I’m not racist! I have Black friends!”
But, as I’m now learning, “not being racist” is not enough; we must actively be ANTI-RACIST. As I am also learning, being anti-racist is not something you are, so much as something you do.
We must learn to be allies to the Black community, as well as all the other POC communities that have been disenfranchised for hundreds of years. And we must do this work ourselves. It’s is not on the oppressed to change the system (they’ve been trying for 400 years), it’s on the oppressors to do the work to change.
Elie Wiesel, author and holocaust survivor said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”⠀
Doing nothing, saying nothing is not acceptable.
I’ve been in the holistic, integrative, functional health space for over a decade, and one thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that this space is not diverse. Not even a little bit. Despite having thousands of students in over 30 countries around the world, the vast, vast majority are or identify as white.
I would love this to change. I also do not know how to change it. I’m starting to do the work to learn what I can do to make this community – in particular, my community – more diverse.
I invite you to join me on this path.
You’re probably reading this because learning about how environmental toxins affect health is important to you.
But environmental toxins are NOT just a public health issue. They are also a race, class, and social justice issue.
I have not done a great job of highlighting the rampant disparity and racism within the realm of environmental health. This will change going forward.
For starters, let’s talk about Environmental Racism.
Environmental Racism refers to the way that Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color, as well as those with lower socioeconomic status, are disproportionately burdened with things like garbage dumps, industrial pollution, toxic waste facilities, unsafe housing, and lack of access to healthy foods and good health care in their neighborhoods, as well as toxic chemicals in their personal care and other household products.
Environmental Racism also includes discussion of the ways in which the effects of climate change disproportionately impact BIPOC.
The environmental movement as a whole has historically been white-centric and non-inclusive. In fact, the history of the environmental movement has extremely racist roots. The New Yorker published an article in 2015 titled “Environmentalism’s Racist History“, which I encourage you to read.
The Environmental Justice movement aims to change this and support those communities affected by environmental racism. This 2-minute video, produced by the Natural Resources Defence Council explains Environmental Justice:
If you’re interested in learning more about Environmental Justice organizations, click here to access a public GoogleDoc I created which lists 20+ organizations that you can follow, volunteer for, and support.
If you would like to read more about Environmental Justice issues, please check out the following books:
- Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children
- Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility
- The Wrong Complexion for Protection – How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities
- A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind
- The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution
- Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States
Supporting Black-Owned Clean/Green Businesses
Unfortunately, the non-toxic beauty space is occupied mostly by white voices. Clean beauty brands often have limited shades of makeup, suitable only for white complexions.
This perpetuates the idea that health and healthy living is only something white people have access to.
Please click here to see a list of 60 Black-Owned Clean Beauty Brands that was curated by Lisa Fennessy of This Organic Girl.
Anti-Racism Education & Training
Since most of my students are health professionals of some kind, learning about how to be anti-racist in our businesses is critically important. Below are some resources that I encourage you to check out:
Reimagining Small Business: A town hall to listen, learn & commit to building equitable, anti-racist organizations with Ericka Hines, Rachel Rodgers, and Susan Hyatt – Click here to access the replay of this session.
Anti-Racism for Wellness Professionals: How to Show up Better – Crash Course on Anti-Racism Practices For Wellness Professional With Chrissy King – Click here to sign up for upcoming training.
Show Up & Serve: A Workshop for White Coaches with Trudi Lebron – Click here to access the replay of this session.
Dismantling Racism with Michelle Cassandra Johnson – Click here to sign up for upcoming training.
It’s not enough to just post a black square on social media and consider ourselves allies. For many of us, the work is just starting and the work is never “complete” – it’s ongoing.
You’re here to learn from me. I implore you, particularly those who are or identify as white, to learn from voices within the Black community, as well as voices from Latinx, Indigenous, and other POC communities.
Layla F. Saad, author of Me And White Supremacy posted on Instagram saying “I don’t ever want to hear a white person say they “don’t know where to start” when it comes to beginning their anti-racism journey again. Those days are over. I’m not talking about my book. I’m talking about ALL the books. On ALL the bestsellers lists and beyond. And ALL the courses. ALL the podcasts. ALL the documentaries. ALL the videos. ALL the articles. ALL the information which has always been there in the multiple formats to begin with, and which is now becoming “mainstream.”
The link above highlights dozens of books to read, podcasts to listen to, movies to watch, folks to follow, and organizations to donate to.
Reading, listening, watching movies, and sending cash does not count as “doing the work” to unlearn racism.
Those things are the bare minimum. It is just where we start.
In addition to doing my own personal work, I’ll also be sharing more going forward on environmental racism, with the longer-term goal of creating a short course on this topic. If you’re not already following me on Instagram, please do, as I’m actively sharing what I’m learning there.
If you have thoughts to share, please feel free to comment below.
If you feel the need to negate the reality of Black people in America, systemic racism, environmental racism, or anything else shared here, please read through some of the resources provided here first before messaging me. As I stated earlier, I will not tolerate – at all – racist comments, including those claiming that “all lives matter.” (If you don’t understand why saying “all lives matter” is seriously problematic, please click here.)
If there are topics you’d like me to dig into further, please let me know.
If you have ideas on how to diversify the health space, please share them.
If you know of other BIPOC non-toxic brands or environmental justice organizations that you think should be on my radar, please share them too.