Employing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in the Pursuit of Environmental Justice

April 6, 2021 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Public Webinar

The dual crises of racism - including environmental racism and environmental injustice - and the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the country to reckon with the compounded and intersecting forms of oppression faced by black people, indigenous people, and other people of color. In seeking to overcome these crises, it is imperative to center the perspectives and needs of the country’s marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionality provide a vital means by which people from a variety of professions, including those in private practice, corporations, government, NGOs, and academia, can center such perspectives in the pursuit of a truly just and equitable future.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a framework that challenges the ways that the law, with a history of preserving white supremacy, has subtly cemented practices of exclusion and perpetuated disadvantages. CRT views the persistent and structural nature of environmental racism as a product of neutral, “colorblind” law reform, advocating instead for laws and policies that explicitly redress racially disparate environmental outcomes. Intersectionality, on the other hand, is the idea that people’s identities condition the ways they are excluded from and/or disadvantaged by existing social structures. It calls on the law to consider how an individual’s race, class, gender, disability, and/or sexual orientation, for example, can exacerbate their experience of environmental racism.

How can these two concepts shift perceptions of and responses to the historical causes and present impacts of environmental racism? How well do current environmental laws – at the local, state, and federal levels – recognize and disrupt existing power relations and social hierarchies? Similarly, how can environmental laws and policies center the perspectives of marginalized people who are uniquely subjected to intersecting and compounded oppressive forces? Join the Environmental Law Institute and expert panelists to explore opportunities for using CRT and intersectionality to help dismantle environmental racism and achieve environmental justice.

Chandra Taylor
, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center, Moderator
Bineshi Albert, Movement Building Coordinator, Indigenous Environment Network
Marisela Martinez-Cola, J.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Utah State University
David Padgett, Associate Professor, Tennessee State University
Jacqueline Patterson, Director, Environmental and Climate Justice Program, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

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