I am a black muslim woman in the environmental justice movement.
I grew up in Minneapolis, where the Somali population is visible. I went to schools with kids who looked like me and had the same culture as me — people I could relate to. Growing up in these predominantly black and Muslim neighborhoods, I was always aware of who I was.
When I first got involved in environmental work, I wanted to keep my identity and my community with me in my activism, especially given the droughts in my parent’s birth country, and the increased air pollution in my own hometown. But that hasn’t always been easy.
When I joined my high school’s environmental club, I was the only black kid at most meetings, and usually the only person of color. The club consisted of a group of white students talking about their camping trips. I knew that I would never fit in. It was difficult to look like their token and attend their meetings, but I kept going because I wanted to change that.
Being the only person of color in these spaces made me realize why it was so difficult for other people of color. I remember, in late January, when we first started organizing the U.S. Youth Climate S... Read more