OP-ED: State of Emergency

By Pashon Murray & Nya Marshall


We are in a Climate Crisis. Our local environment is a reflection of our global environment;

which means we keep taking hits, but it’s imperative that we repair the damage.

For so long, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) communities like ours have

been uninvited and left out of key conversations involving Climate Change. We know that

environmental justice and climate equity call for our leadership.


Slavery’s address has changed but the Climate Crisis is definitely—without a doubt—linked to

humanity’s long history of inequality and injustice preserved and institutionalized by legacies of

colonialism and slavery that was based on the exploitation of people, hijacking of land, and

destruction of nature.


But, what is sustainability?


We’re glad you asked! But first, let’s discuss why it’s even something you should care about.

The pattern of polluting BIPOC communities isn’t new, nor is it unique to Detroit. Across the

globe, communities that look like ours are often the target for oil refineries, landfills, incinerators, flooding, and other major environmental pollutants.


After all, why pollute an area that has already been established as a home to wealthy (usually

white) families? Ours are the families that are usually deemed as exceptional losses.

We can’t control natural disasters’ impacts on communities. Sometimes it’s unpredictable. But,

without proper representation from people who are impacted or have been in the past, our

voices can’t be heard.


Sometimes, the two of us are the only people of color in the rooms where some of these key

environmental and communal decisions are made. And that’s unacceptable. Still, there are

ways to create change.


As more of us make our way to the boardrooms, city, and environmental council meetings that

can decide our collective fate, we can all contribute to changing our circumstances and

improving our quality of life. Sustainability can help with that.


So, back to that question: What is sustainability?

Sustainability is bringing balance to the world with natural resources. It’s how everyday people

can create new systems that replace those that never functioned with us in mind.

Sustainable models stand on three pillars: social, environmental, and economical.



People are the power behind any positive change. Improvements are possible through social

interaction and education.

That means all of us, not just a chosen few.


When most people talk about Climate Change and environmental effects, it’s usually a

high-brow, scientific conversation. That’s not where we’re coming from—at all.

We mean our neighborhoods, our streets, and our blocks. Your personal environment is

paramount to creating balance for us all, and for our communities.

That means that environmental justice reforms are key for equitable environmental justice to

become a reality.



Money makes the world go ‘round. There is economic value in creating new manufacturing and

other large-scale businesses, but the overall cost to people who look like us is usually

considered to be too high to pay.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many inefficiencies in economic models across the globe,

including right here in Detroit.


There is even greater economic value in sustainable business models that lend themselves to

deeper community involvement. There’s this funny thing that happens when people save

money: they tend to make even more of it.


We’re Pashon and Nya, Michigan natives and Detroiters who love the city beyond measure.

That’s why we want to help fix some of its problems. And we hope you’ll join us.

What do you know about your carbon footprint? We’ll have the information you need next


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