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Friday, September 19, 2008

The Implications of Our Name

We love our name and believe it sounds very good. Yet we know that some, particularly many whites, are distracted by our name. Though they will not voice it in most instances, it is offputting because it seems exclusive to blacks. It could appear to be some sort of separatist entity that is 'for blacks only.' Yet we are simply an environmental group that works on many environmental and energy issues, but also places some focus on the black community. Much as the National Wildlife Federation works on energy policy too, but puts an emphasis on wildlife protection.

We are proud of our name and it reflects our belief that the black community in virtually every city in the United States is usually the most vulnerable in terms of pollution exposures. Yet most of the resources of our federal agencies and private environmental groups are not aggressively addressing the problems in these communities. So although we address environmental issues that affect the planet and neighbors everywhere, we also seek to put some additional work into the areas that are impacted the most.

It does frustrate us sometimes though that we know our name prevents us from getting the publicity, funding and recognition for specific victories in many many instances. And this happens even from entities that consider us to be their 'friends.' Regardless, we will continue to do good work to the extent our resources allow. We also hope that one day, just as 'nuclear power' has come to be embraced more, that 'African American' too will be embraced as well.

Oh. And we do not use the hyphen because it does not look good.

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