"The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and the environmental movement have not always walked side by side. However, that tide is slowly shifting. This much-needed unity has never been more clear than in the M4BL’s release of the BREATHE Act, a suite of policy proposals, on Tuesday.
While the document includes expected demands, such as the reallocation of federal taxpayer dollars from discriminatory policing to community-led approaches, it also includes some that are squarely focused on environmental justice. Among them is a call for the U.S. government to allocate new funds toward building “healthy, sustainable and equitable communities.”
The mainstream environmental movement has only recently become an ally in protecting Black lives. That’s largely thanks to the Black advocates who pushed environmental organizations to center environmental justice. Black Americans have long suffered at the hands of polluting industries, and fossil fuel giants continue to push for dirty projects in predominantly Black neighborhoods. When it comes to prisons, which disproportionately house Black people, they are often vulnerable to extreme weather events climate change fuels like hurricanes. The connections between Black lives, the prison industrial complex, and the climate crisis are stark. Now, the M4BL is trying to make sure our elected officials quit ignoring the linkages by rolling out a suite of proposals it’s calling the BREATHE Act."