Justice First Tour stop in Richmond, Virginia at Virginia Union University’s Coburn Hall on May 19, 2018. Putting JUSTICE First under a big tent to organize and unite our struggles were left to right, Panel moderator Queen Zakia Shabazz, Founder United Parents Against Lead and Coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative; Reverend Rodney Hunter, Co-Director Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy; Dr. Travis Williams, Teaching Faculty Instructor at VCU; Vee Lamneck, Deputy Director Equality Virginia; Kristin Reed, Assistant Professor VCU and Bekura W. Shabazz, Climate Organizer Virginia Conservation Network.
The Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative was created in 2015 when four organizations (The Southeast CARE Coalition, Appalachian Voices, the Federal Policy Office of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and New Virginia Majority) saw the need for statewide coordination to support Virginia organizations addressing Environmental Justice issues.
What does Environmental Justice mean to us?
The VEJC has adopted the following definition of Environmental Justice:
According to the Southeast CARE Coalition (SECC), the whole of community must be taken into account when defining environment in environmental justice. Therefore, for SECC and for the VEJC “environmental” refers to the
NATURAL (air, water, land, etc. );
CULTURAL (ethnic identity of people, history of community, etc.);
SOCIAL (existing /lacking public services such as health, education, etc.);
ECONOMIC (individual/collective wealth, employment, local businesses, etc) and;
POLITICAL (local, state, federal) components of a community.
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies.
Fair treatment (non-discriminatory actions) is the fair and equitable treatment of all whereby no group of people bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from environmental decisions.
2. Meaningful involvement is the guarantee that:
impacted and vulnerable community residents have a realistic opportunity to participate in the full cycle of the decision-making process about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and/or health;
decision-makers will seek out and consider participation, allowing it to shape and influence the decision.