With Earth Day just around the corner, it’s time to remind ourselves that caring for the environment is another way to fight for justice and equality. As the Flint water crisis showed all too well, environmental racism is a very real facet of systemic prejudice that exposes people of color and low-income citizens to hazardous materials.
With that in mind, let’s look ahead to some events that will educate, advocate, and celebrate a better and cleaner world.
If there’s something on the horizon in your area that you’d like to see featured in the MTV News Social Justice Forecast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
All Month Long:
Everywhere: Change the world for Earth Day 2016.
Earth Day is officially on April 22, but people are organizing all sorts of environmentally friendly events throughout the month. We've got space here to highlight only a handful of the thousands of things going on, but you can find events near you on this handy map courtesy of the Earth Day Network. If you want to plan your own event, you can also register it to be added to the map. Get involved and create a better climate for the future!
This week we’re looking at a perfect storm of solidarity with black sunshine, trans lightning, and queer rainbows converging over North Carolina. More rainbows are expected in Missouri, and high tides of environmental justice are coming to the beaches of Southern California.
Saturday, April 16
Santa Monica, California: Comb the beach until there's Nothin' but Sand.
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1600 Ocean Front Walk
Near Lifeguard Tower 1550
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Heal the Bay works to preserve and clean up Southern California’s beaches, rivers, and oceanfronts. Every third Saturday of the month, it organizes Nothin' but Sand beach cleanups around the area. April’s event is at Santa Monica Beach and is also part of their Earth Day celebration. In addition to organizing volunteers to clear trash, there will be FREE yoga for attendees and FREE surf lessons for Heal the Bay members in the morning, plus a sand castle competition! Register to clean up the beach this month, and every month, to make sure California’s beaches are Nothin' but Sand.
Sunday, April 17
New York: Party with a purpose at Earth Day New York.
12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
E 17th St and Park Ave
New York, NY 10003
There’s a ton going on to celebrate Earth Day all over New York this week, including cleaning up parks in local neighborhoods and a 5K that teaches you how to be green in an urban setting. One of the main events is Earth Day Initiative's celebration in Union Square on Sunday. The daylong festival will feature live music, sustainable health food vendors, and information about environmental campaigns you can get involved with. The Sanitation Department will also be on hand to collect used clothes and electronics, which will be repurposed rather than added to landfill. The event kicks off with an award ceremony followed by a press conference, and then musical performances take over for the remainder of the day. Come rain or shine, get down to Union Square on Sunday, and join the celebration!
Wednesday, April 20
New Brunswick, New Jersey: Soak up some knowledge by “Cleaning Up New Jersey’s Toxic Legacy.”
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
School of Communication and Information
4 Huntington St, Room 212
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1071
Building from the work of Dirty Little Secrets, an investigative effort among local news organizations to uncover the impact of pollution on New Jersey, this forum will focus on environmental justice concerns in the state. There will be a panel discussion featuring members of the local press, a conversation about environmental justice in Newark’s Ironbound community, and presentations from student reporters. Registration is free. Hosted by Rutgers-New Brunswick, this will be an informative and fulfilling evening that can better prepare you to be part of the high-pressure system for a cleaner and greener New Jersey.
Jefferson City, Missouri: Storm the Missouri State Capitol at Equality Day.
9:30 a.m - 2:30 p.m.
201 West Capitol Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101
PROMO, a Missouri-based LGBT equality organization, is hosting an advocacy day at the Missouri State Capitol. Stand with activists against anti-LGBT legislation as they tell legislators that Missouri is no place for discrimination. You can use the hashtag #ShowMeFairness to join the movement for LGBT equality in the state. To participate in Equality Day, you have to register with PROMO ahead of time. Registration is only $5. Contact Kirstin@PROMOonline.org or call 314-862-4900 if you have any questions about how to help rain down equality on Missouri.
Thursday, April 21 - Monday, April 25
Raleigh, North Carolina: Stand together for justice with the North Carolina NAACP.
April 21: All day
April 25: 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
16 W Jones St
Raleigh, NC 27601
In response to North Carolina’s governor signing HB 2, one of the most oppressive statewide anti-LGBT laws in the country, the North Carolina NAACP is demanding that the law, which it’s calling “Hate Bill 2,” be repealed by April 21. The NC NAACP has already planned a People’s Legislative Lobby Day for April 25 that will include sit-ins protesting HB 2 if it is not repealed; if it is, there will still be a march, teaching sessions, civic actions, music, and food. So keep an eye on the NC NAACP for updates on April 21, and plan to join them for a day of lobbying for social justice in North Carolina the following Monday. Converging systems of justice signify brighter days ahead.
Tuesday, May 17
Raleigh, North Carolina: Speak to your lawmakers in North Carolina at EQNC: Day of Advocacy.
5 E Edenton St
Raleigh, NC 27601
16 W Jones St
Raleigh, NC 27601
Equality North Carolina is planning a lobbying day of its own in May. The organization will be convening at the North Carolina Museum of History to prepare folks for meetings with members of the state legislature, and then will send advocates to meet with their elected officials at the General Assembly in the afternoon. If you want to be part of this organized civic engagement, you need to register with Equality North Carolina. You are encouraged to bring friends and family to join the effort and get as many people as possible educated and trained to speak to their representatives on issues of LGBT equality. Given what people living in North Carolina are facing, it’s going to take everyone doing everything they can to keep rainbows in the sky over the state.
We hope you get out there and do your part to protect our planet, its resources, and all of the people who call Earth home. Where any of that is threatened, we should pull together to change things for the better. As always: Whether it’s bringing out the sun or calling down a storm, we need you.