Student Blog: Environmental Justice: Learning the Basics and How to Join the Fight with Dr. Fushcia-Ann Hoover
Many people would not see the words “racism” and “environment” and immediately make a connection between the two. This is why there is a desperate need for an unveiling of the intersection between environmental issues and racism and recognition of the communities of color facing ecological degradation and neglect. Dr. Fushcia-Ann Hoover is a researcher who explores this intersection. She focuses on environmental justice within urban planning and explores the interconnected racial histories and dynamics between individuals, places, and the environment.
Dr. Hoover grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and reflected on the many natural resources and green spaces around her that sparked her interest in the environment. She is the founder of the company Eco Green Queen, which she created to help researchers make connections between the environment and racism more easily.
“With Eco Green Queen in particular, that was a way for me to try and help researchers do a better job of thinking about environmental racism and injustices and how to integrate some of the principles and theories that are foundational to the movement with the research,” she said.
When asked about how she would define climate justice, Dr. Hoover touched on the three significant components of environmental justice: the recognition of racism, the acknowledgment of natural resources being damaged and its effect on local communities, and the need to eliminate pollution.
According to Dr. Hoover, the recognitional aspect is not the only prime part of environmental justice – focusing on repairing and working with a community and its ecological issues is essential to the movement.
“It’s not enough to move a facility or shut down a facility,” said Dr. Hoover. It is also important to “ work with the community to figure out what types of health or other financial infrastructure resources are needed to reinvest in those communities that have been strategically disinvested,” she said.
“But also [it’s about] really trying to address and reduce or eliminate the problems of pollution in the first place because nobody should have to live next to a landfill or a paper processing plant,” she added.
Dr. Hoover is currently a Radcliffe Fellow working on a project that focuses on Black feminist ecological theory and the connection between Black feminist theory and the environment—particularly the unique gender and racialized experiences and conditions Black women face in the environment.
To become involved in environmental justice efforts, she suggests students not only interact with environmental justice organizations such as WE ACT, if volunteering interests them, but also recognize their personal relationship with the environment.
“The best route for you is first understanding your own relationship with the environment and thinking about how you interact with those spaces, how you consume those resources, what kind of consciousness you have around consumption, and then the second aspect of that would be to look up local organizations related to natural resource conservation or environmental work. Any racial justice work inevitably connects back to bettering the environment,” she said.
“I think with all organizations, hands and time are some of the most critical things that are needed. Volunteering your time in whatever capacity that looks like, with whatever skill set you can bring to the table, is often really helpful.”