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Issues Of The Environment: 'Green Door Initiative' Working For Racial And Environmental Justice

Donele Wilkins
Greendoor Initative

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the the African-American community more in a variety of negative ways.  Among other things, it has highlighted the systemic issues that continue to support environmental racism.  Detroit-based "Green Door Initiative" was created specifically to fight such inequities.  Organization founder and CEO Donele Wilkins discusses progress and present and future challenges with WEMU's David Fair.  


  • Recent findings about the effects of COVID-19 on the human body, and how it spreads, are highlighting another reason Black Americans are disproportionately at risk: environmental racism.  The interlocking harms of environmental racism and residential segregation, the health effects of those systems, and the particular way that COVID-19 spreads and affects individuals are likely combining to contribute to racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths. (Source: *directly quoted* https://tcf.org/content/commentary/environmental-racism-left-black-communities-especially-vulnerable-covid-19/?session=1)

  • Public Health is a theme throughout the Environmental Justice Movement.  Unfortunately, communities like Detroit lead in chronic diseases like Asthma, Lead Poisoning, and various cancers.  Most of this is because of Housing Discrimination policy.  These policies create a clear path for undesirable land uses such as the location of polluting facilities and activities near residential communities. (Source: https://greendoorinitiative.org)

  • Donele Wilkins, President and CEO of Green Door Initiative, founded the initiative to “advocate for equal protection under the law for environmental protection, opening doors for young people to find their place in the effort, and seek policy options in a diminishing climate which regulate African Americans and others to the bottom.”  The group’s website says, “Environmental Justice affirms that we speak for ourselves. We are the champions we have been waiting on!!”

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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