Black Environmental Thought

Recent Articles

African inventor addresses worldwide crisis of sanitation

 
Lack of toilets, water overuse will bring the crisis to the U.S., engineer predicts
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Human waste disposal and how to properly manage it has been a recognized environmental issue since 2008 when the United Nations declared that year the “International Year of Sanitation.” However, some believe that the issue is not getting enough attention as it should. There are nearly three billion people worldwide today who don’t have access to a toilet, notes Ghana engineer Kweku Anno, who invented the Biofil Digester 15 years ago and introduced it in 2008. Anno’s Biofil Digester is “a unique waste treatment system” that claims to work 30 times faster than current septic systems and uses less water and disposes sewage without stench. He has installed over 2,000 Biofil Digesters in homes, offices and other buildings in Ghana, Belize, India, South Africa and Liberia, and says he believes one day it could eliminate the septic system. An estimated 90 percent of the people living in Ghana don’t have access to toilets, says Anno. Continue Reading →

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Food as a weapon: Welcome to a ‘new age of food justice’

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Kwasi Nate Russell has studied the corridor on Minneapolis’ North Side from West Broadway Avenue, starting at Washington Avenue and east toward Girard Avenue, and discovered nearly 20 “major and minor fast-food/ junk-food establishments.”

LaDonna Redmond, a senior program associate at the Minneapolis- based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, recalled that there were more fast-food places than fresh-food places “within 10 minutes” of her home when she lived in Chicago. “I could get a semiautomatic [weapon]… We can get anything in the ’hood, but I could not get an organic tomato,” she said jokingly. Both Redmond and Russell, a local natural food diet entrepreneur, discussed at the Black Environmental Thought II conference at the University of Minnesota in September how “food politics” have adversely affected Blacks and low-income people. “The industrial food system was created in part by the exploitation of Native Americans and Africans, because it was the exploitation of land and labor that created the food system that we stand on today,” explained Redmond. “Food always has been used as a weapon. Continue Reading →

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Black farmers fight to retain land ownership

 
Modern-day struggle renews, redefines 40-acers-and-a-mule promise
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Land ownership, which signaled both privilege and power, was a European concept brought to the country. “The way we think about property is a European tradition,” notes Maria Wiseman, an assistant solicitor in the Division of Indian Affairs with the U.S. Interior Department. Wiseman and the University of Wisconsin’s Katrina Quisumbling King and Jess Gilbert last month discussed the significance of Black farmland ownership in the Rural South at the Black Environmental Thought II conference at the University of Minnesota. The “40 acres and a mule” promise was a result of Special Field Order No. 15 issued by General William T. Sherman in 1865 that was intended to make available “hundreds of thousands of acres of confiscated and abandoned Confederate lands to former slaves for settlement,” explained Wiseman. Continue Reading →

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Conference brings Black environmental thought to Twin Cities

Everyday Black folks missing from the eco-dialogue

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Tuskegee University hosted the first-ever Black Environmental Thought (BET) conference in 2007. The University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Center hosted last weekend the second such event on September 21-23. The U-M’s African American and African Studies (AAAS) department, the Institute for Advanced Study and St. Paul-based AfroEco were key organizers of BET II, which was billed for Black scholars, activists, farmers and other environmentalists “to engage in translocal and transnational dialogues about environmental justice.”

“It took us five years to do this again,” proclaimed U-M Professor Rose Brewer in her welcoming remarks. AAAS Chair Keith Mayes added that too often “Black folk and people of color are left out of the [environmental] discussion.”

Environmental issues are “fundamental Black issues,” noted AfroEco’s Sam Grant. Continue Reading →

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