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As Long As Grass Grows - Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Disclaimer: I won a copy via a Librarything giveaway.

I suppose I could just say that I was reading this on the way back from work and when I looked up, somehow, the trolley had gotten to one stop from mine without me knowing. It was that absorbing. Gilio-Whitaker makes what might have been a somewhat dull topic and engages the reader.

But I suppose you want more than that.

When I mentioned I was reading this book to my friend who teaches in the Urban Studies department and who has worked one various community environmental projects, he admitted he wasn’t sure about the term environmental justice. He believes that justice somewhat confuses the issue and prefers the term morality.

In the opening section of the book, Gilio-Whitaker does take the time to defend what she means by environmental justice as well as statistics that show the impact on minority groups. Donald Trump JR’s inane comment aside, if you have read anything about cities and neighborhoods, you must know the truth of those statements. Gilio-Whitaker then separates Indigenous populations from other minority groups because, quite correctly, she deals with the issues of being dispossessed, broken treaties, and so on.

What is more important is that for those not of Indigenous heritage or lack of knowledge, she clearly shows not only differences in belief systems, but also how Indigenous populations are more closely tied to the environmental – an environmental that they manipulated long before the arrival of European settlers. The section of the book that traces the history of the environmental movement as well as the development of national parks tying it to the issues of racism and white supremacy.

There is a very good discussion about the devices used to terminate and move Indigenous populations – slavery, starvation far more than dieses. Particularly gutting wrenching is when the Federal government decided who and who wasn’t an Indigenous tribe, allowing them to take away even more and wrecking more destruction upon the culture.

Gilio-Whitaker set out and wrote a good about environmental justice and the Indigenous population, but she also damns the education system in American that does not go into depth about the injustices committed to Indigenous populations. Most schools just mention the land stealing. But there is so much more.

If Coates put forward an eloquent reason for reparations, Gilio-Whitaker puts forward an equally compelling one for Environmental Justice.