Our VoiceHealth & Environment

There’s a dark cloud of racism over Earth Day Texas

Lindsay Schubiner • Apr 24, 2015

Today, the annual festival celebrating Earth Day in Texas begins in Dallas. Unfortunately, there’s a dark cloud of racism obscuring this event’s important message of environmental conservation.

The organized anti-immigrant movement has shown up at Earth Day Texas, and they haven’t come alone. Several anti-immigrant groups have registered to exhibit at the event and, although they have different names, they have the same connections to white nationalism.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is joined by four other anti-immigrant organizations: NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies, Negative Population Growth, and the deceptively named Progressives for Immigration Reform.

These groups are trying to gain support for anti-immigrant policies by peddling the message that immigrants are the cause of environmental degradation.

This is not a new tactic.

Anti-immigrant organizations have long sought to situation themselves within the environmental movement, which would allow them access to an additional base of support and enable them to hide their racism with the progressive legitimacy of environmentalists. They have even made two serious plays to take over the Sierra Club’s board of directors.

But their message is not only overtly racist. It is also simply not true.

The real culprits causing environmental degradation are not immigrants or a larger U.S. population, but dirty industries and the economic drive for increased production. In fact, immigrants and people of color in the U.S. and around the world often suffer disproportionately from pollution, climate change, the plunder of natural resources, and more.

But that doesn’t matter to FAIR and its allied organizations, because they have a different agenda. That is because FAIR and many of its allied organizations were founded by well-known eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton, and they still operate based on his philosophy. Tanton has argued that population control is key to environmental preservation, leading him and his network to support coercive sterilization and promote anti-immigrant policies.

Despite this disturbing information about the anti-immigrant exhibitors at Earth Day Texas, the event organizers have refused to take a stand against racism by excluding the anti-immigrant movement from their event. They have also declined to comment about their decision.

The refusal of the Earth Day Texas organizers to weed out groups founded on population control and racism sends a frightening message indeed to all people concerned about racial and environmental justice. The anti-immigrant movement has the potential to divide the environmental movement—but we can’t let it.

If you’re as disappointed as we are that hate is coming to Earth Day Texas, let the organizers know (@EarthDayTexas and #EDTx2015) that racism has no place in environmentalism!

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