In honor of Earth Day I wanted to promote the Go Green message and explore why going green hasn’t really caught on in the Black community.
I learned from Stuff White People Like* that white people like the following:
And since the go green message has been spread primarily by way of white people wearing T-shirts, and sporting bumper stickers on their cars it would appear to the average non-white person that the whole green movement is a decidedly white phenomenon that they need not participate in. Sort of like extreme sports.
This is such an unfortunate misconception! I am a black person and I have been trying to make efforts to greenify my life for several years now, but I have noticed that not many of my peers have jumped on the green bandwagon. I have a few theories, that I will discuss shortly, about why this is the case.
Now to the casual observer I probably don’t look very environmentally concious for the following reasons:
1) I’m black.
2) I generally don’t wear T-shirts with Go Green themed slogans (refer to #1)
3) I don’t have a Go Green bumper sticker on my car (refer to #1)
I’m hoping that I can send the message that being greener doesn’t require that you be white, wear green message t-shirts, or even that you defile your whip with tacky adhesives. It is indeed possible for black and green to mix and be beautiful.
As I said before I have devised a few theories as to why the green movement hasn’t quite taken the black community by storm yet.
1) The Black community has a number of well known social ills to contend with so when a socially concious black person is trying to choose a cause to get behind, saving the planet generally doesn’t make the cut.
2) Most green initiatives appear to be a lot of trouble. Let’s take recycling for example. It’s easier to chuck all your trash into one container than it is to sort out the recyclables. Also a lot of communities still don’t have recycling programs that make it much easier to do this. Black people generally don’t go out of their way to do things that they can’t see an immediate benefit from.
3) A lot of green initiative appear to be expensive.
2 pack of Energy efficient light bulbs $ 8.98
2 pack of regular incandescent light bulb $ 2.64
Which one do you think a budget concious black person is more likely to pick?
Of course in the long run the energy efficient light bulb will save money by using less electricity and potentially lasting up to 10 times longer than the regular light bulb.
4) A key reason I think going green hasn’t caught on in the black community is the messengers for the cause generally don’t look like or speak to us. When black people think of environmentalists, images of hippies, hipsters, and other inexplicable white behavior come to mind.
So given all of these barriers what should be done to make taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint more attractive to people of color?
To start I propose the following:
1) Steps need to be taken to make going green seem a little less like a white hipster trend….perhaps the term “Going Green” is a part of the problem. It’s catchy and short and can easily fit onto a T-shirt which automatically makes it attractive to white people. But it also makes it seem too much like a fad and not enough like a real lifestyle change.
2) Get more urban celebrities on the green bandwagon. This will help to make it cool among young black youth. Which in turn will make it even more cool among non-black youth. If we’re really lucky the hip hop hop image will make a shift from conspicious consumerism to conservation.
I have to commend Ludacris because he is the first urban personality that I know of who has taken a stand to try to promote environmentalism. (On a personal note I luvs me some Luda). Now how committed he actually is to living a greener life may be questionable since I’m pretty sure his raps still include a healthy dose of conspicious consumerism….but hey it’s a start and at least he was out there getting the message out.
3) Get more regular people who aren’t hipsters or hippies on board. Teachers, politicians, local business owners etc. It has to be made clear that being greener is not a white thing but an everybody thing.
4) And finally perhaps someone should create a dance craze that incorporates green initiative education in the lyrics. Maybe it will catch on like the electric slide, the Soulja Boy, and the Stanky Leg.
Until my proposals are put into effect here are some links that might help to spread Green education.
Feel free to suggest other ways to make green the new black.