June 18, 2021
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day freedom finally came to enslaved people in the state of Texas - nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. While today is a day of celebration, it is also a day of acknowledgement and recommitment to unraveling the systemic inequality that remains in place to this day.
In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the United States has always been delayed for Black people. The decades after the Civil War ended we would see other forms of oppression take root and grow. This includes the mass incarceration of Black people, discriminatory housing policies, lack of economic investment, and the disproportionate impact of environmental health threats such as toxic exposure.
While progress has been made in the past 156 years, we still have much more work to do. At Safer States, an integral part of our work to ensure a toxic-free future is our commitment to equity and environmental justice.
Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with many civil rights and justice organizations who are on the front lines and with the Black community who continue to be impacted by historic and ongoing racism. We encourage others to celebrate today by recognizing the inequities inherent in our society and joining us in figuring out how to address our own behaviors that contribute to this problem. Here are three things Safer States is doing on our journey towards a more equitable society:
Holding polluters accountable. Chemical manufacturers like DuPont and 3M have known for decades that PFAS chemicals were harmful. These chemicals have been linked to health effects including various forms of cancer, thyroid disease, and hormone disruption. While we’re all exposed to some degree, it is communities of color and low-income communities that bear the brunt of toxic exposure. Safer States will continue to work to advance policies that hold all of us to our responsibilities, making human health and safety our top priority.
Uplifting and fighting alongside our environmental justice partners. Safer States is honored to work alongside incredible environmental justice leaders, but we cannot expect them to do all the work. Addressing systemic inequality means we all have a part to play.
Addressing racial equity from the inside out. Safer States recognizes that we are not immune to the racism rooted in our society. We are actively working on identifying and addressing institutional and structural racism and have begun building concrete steps to become a more equitable organization.