“What happens when we invest in Black women environmental leaders beyond survival and into our dreams, creativity, and imagination?” – Grace Anderson, The Lupine Collaborative Founder

Working in the environmental movement isn’t easy—the stakes are high, the challenges vast, and the wins often few and far between. But for Black women in particular, the task is even greater.

Whether they are at the frontlines, in the political arena, or working in big organizations; Black women regularly face working environments and organizing spaces hostile to their ideas, wellbeing, and safety.

A new report, We All Deserve Safety and Peace, follows the harrowing stories of three Black women frontline leaders who face harassment and regular threats of violence for their work. One anonymous environmental justice advocate described being the target of virulent doxing, hacking attempts, racist Zoom bombing, and in-person stalking after she testified before Congress about her work.

“Study after study shows that racist and sexist assumptions about Black girls and women make us more likely to experience sexual, psychological, and physical violence in our lifetimes,” write the authors of the report in an open letter. “We are here to say we are not giving in. We are standing up for our right to safety and peace.”

The report calls on funders, policymakers, and movement leaders to support the wellbeing and safety of Black women through tools like proactive privacy measures, professional in-person security, facilitated relocation, a comprehensive security case-management organization, peer-support communities, strengthened internet regulations, and mental health resources.

This critical advice is echoed in another recent publication, the Climate Burnout Report by Climate Critical, founded by Catalyst Award Finalist and Environmental Grantmakers Association President Tamara Toles O’Laughlin. The report looks at the day-to-day challenges faced by those in the environmental workforce, and the need for resources like affinity groups, workplace protections, and mental health support for the people who are working to build a better world.

“Black Femmes are leading on the frontlines of the environmental movement everyday. We are immersed deeply in our communities while steadfastly holding care and concern for our communities’ wellbeing in our hearts,” said Jameka Hodnett, co-founder and executive director of Rise to Thrive. “We take their concerns into every room. Being accountable to them is an exercise in practicing love. We’re doing the tough work of tackling entrenched systems of pollution and violence. Systems we did not build. But they harm everyone. We do the work to lift us and inevitably lift everyone.”

In this spirit, Rachel’s Network recently provided grants to four burgeoning organizations led by and for Black women in the environmental movement:

  • The Chisholm Legacy Project, led by Founder and Executive Director Jacqui Patterson, is a resource hub for Black frontline climate justice leaders. They provide tools to advance systems change centered in equity and justice.
  • Climate Critical, led by Founder Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, is rebuilding a movement of climate activists who center creative care, resourcing, and restoration as essential tools in the fight for survival.
  • The Lupine Collaborative, led by Grace Anderson, resources Black women, non-binary, and transgender people in the environmental + climate space to build solutions of their own invention. They do this by providing fellowships, writing programs, and gatherings for these leaders.
  • Rise to Thrive, led by Jameka Hodnett, uplifts the leadership, work, and accomplishments of women of color in the environmental and climate movement through awards, mutual aid, and professional development.

“For many of us not on the frontlines, we don’t often see the heavy physical and psychological cost to movement leaders that comes with environmental and racial progress,” said Spark Bird Founder and Principal Ariana Carella who facilitated the funding. “Women of color in our movement need more support, and funding like this is more critical than ever.”

A portion of the funding was provided through the Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award which supports women of color environmental leaders with annual grants, wraparound leadership services, and public recognition.

To support BIPOC movement leaders, donate to the organizations above and to the Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award.


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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