Stories from a Green New Deal: Brooke

I was introduced to MN350 during my time with the Minneapolis NAACP, and began to learn more about their mission, and the importance of transitioning to a clean-energy future. Since then, I have been researching the global data and statistics on climate and environmental injustice, and using my voice to raise awareness on the frightful disparities. 

Though, I’ve always had a deep connection with climate. As an asthmatic kid from North Minneapolis, I was terrified of thunderstorms, and spent a lot of time studying the weather system to better understand why severe weather occurs, and what makes it so scary. I wasn’t aware, however, that air pollution is far scarier than thunderstorms and has harmful impacts on pre-existing health conditions such as asthma.

Now that I am an “asthma mom,” and survivor, I am working to ensure that my son’s asthma remains well-controlled and managed responsibly. I stay up-to-date on the latest medical research, and recently discovered that diesel emissions from traditional school buses actually worsen asthma symptoms and trigger attacks, especially in Black children.

To help curb this disparity, I partnered with MN350’s transportation team on their electric school bus campaign to testify in front of the Minnesota Senate in support of funding for electric school bus fleets. Most folks are unaware that Black people are 42% more likely than whites to have asthma and have a mortality rate from asthma 2.8 times that of white people, According to recent national data from the American Lung Association. Electrifying school buses will help reduce this disparity.

This is why I am working to ensure that Black people get involved in the climate justice fight. We can no longer wait for an invitation to the table. We must design our own, and stick together as we’re building it. Every effort counts to help advance our community forward, and to eliminate the health disparities that are silently killing us. We must reach out to our state representatives to push for transparency in communication on Minnesota’s plan to combat the climate crisis.

We must hold political leaders accountable, and demand that consistency and intentionality remains at the forefront of outreach efforts. Our communities are constantly confronted with empty promises to fix complex issues that exist within them. We’re done with solutions being built without the Black voice. The strategy to exclude us is played out. It is time for us to lead the foundational conversations and take bold action to build a promising future for us.

The good thing about this work is you can get involved at any time, no matter who or where you are.  You don’t need to be an expert or wait for an invitation to participate. You can start by simply sharing information online, attending climate-focused events, or starting the conversation with your friends and family. Let’s all do our part to take care of our shared environment, and progressively change the narratives for Black people.

Brooke Roper is a serial entrepreneur, community member, parent of a son with asthma, and an MN350 supporter.

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