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Climate and Environment

This Climate Activist Is Insisting On Diverse Representation

Students participate in a global walkout for Climate Change in downtown Los Angeles on March 15, 2019.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP/Getty Images)
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When Kristy Drutman began working as a climate activist, she almost immediately noticed a problem: activists of color were being ignored and left out of the conversation.

Drutman, creator of the podcast Brown Girl Green, says despite the disparity in mainstream support and funding, activists of color and their organizations haven’t let up on the fight because it’s personal for them.

“They are literally so resourceful, and are fighting so hard to protect their communities,” she said. “These communities don’t have a choice. They can’t just shut off the power plant that’s outside their home that’s causing their kids’ asthma.”

In the past few years, cities and counties across the country — including Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino — have implemented action plans aimed at shaping cities to be more climate resilient.

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However, in those conversations, Drutman says communities of color are often excluded, then left to cope with the consequences.

“It’s about who is in the room,” she said. “When we are thinking about building a future that has clean energy, or we are redesigning cities to accommodate for more green space, we have to think about what communities are going to be impacted by that.”

When it comes to diversifying the room, it’s about more than representation; it’s about inclusion and equity.

“It’s not even a matter of just saying, Oh, it’s nice to have a Black or Brown person in the room,” Drutman said. “It’s how these plans and actions get designed. And if you don't come from that community, why would they be top of your mind when making these decisions?”

And for that reason, she’s not giving up on the fight anytime soon.