Communities of color face some of the worst environmental devastation in the country. While the crisis in Flint and Hurricane Katrina are two widely known examples of the effects of climate change on our communities, there are countless examples that often go unnoticed.
Black children are five times more likely than White children to have lead poisoning, truck depots are often located in urban communities of color and people of color breathe 46 percent more nitrogen dioxide (which contributes to respiratory diseases and heart conditions) than White people.
This explains why one in six African-American children have asthma.
However, the Paris Climate Accord established a global consensus to reduce carbon pollution and set the world on a low-carbon course. It is referenced as a global agreement to do something about the devastating effects of climate change – which are real and alarming. To be clear, I, like many political analysts, have acknowledged that the agreement was not perfect; I would argue it was not nearly as bold as it needed to be. But it was a global commitment to do something to save our planet and subsequently, communities of color in America.
The Trump Administration will attempt to sell you the dishonest falsehood that the United States will leave the Paris Accords to “put America first,” but Trump’s "America first" policies always seems like code for Black and Brown people last. Donald Trump was clear in that withdrawing from the climate accords, he was fulfilling a campaign promise to his base and therefore, not doing what is best for most Americans. Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. He further solidified his dangerous philosophy on the issue by nominating a climate denier to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Most importantly he proves that he cannot be trusted to protect the communities hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change.
During the campaign, Trump infamously asked Black people in America, “What do you have to lose?” Today, the answer is the collective health and economic growth of our communities. When the Tweeter-in-Chief abdicates the United States’ global leadership on climate change, he is affirming that the environmental racism in which local governments, state governments and companies traffic daily is acceptable and will not be challenged. He is abdicating America’s ability to lead in job creation, clean energy, technology development and implementation and domestic manufacturing. He is telling the people of Flint their lives do not matter and that brown water is the new normal.
There are global implications for the Trump Administration’s blatant ignorance where climate change is concerned, but we do not have to look too far outside of our own communities to see the threat. Daily, people of color from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Seattle, Washington are experiencing an assault on their health and environment, in their schools, neighborhoods, parks and work places.
Basically, Donald Trump never loved us, but his proverbial war on communities of color does not have to go unchecked.
Symone D. Sanders is a Strategist for Priorities USA, a CNN Political Commentator and the former National Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. You can follow her on Twitter @SymoneDSanders