It’s Not Just About Frogs, But All of Us: Intersectional Environmentalism

Photo credit: Max Schulte/WXII news

We are one 

There’s a strong chance you know about the protests in Rochester, calling for justice for Daniel Prude. And no doubt you’ve seen #BlackLivesMatter online. You might be thinking, “Why am I reading about Black Lives Matter in a frog blog?”

Because racial justice and environmentalism are deeply connected.

Image: Ricardo Levins Morales

Environmental Justice

Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice, defines it as embracing “the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expands on this idea.  Their official definition of 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 environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” 

In order to accomplish this, it’s important to make our environmental efforts intersectional.

Intersectional environmentalism

Intersectional environmentalism comes from the idea that environmental work is incomplete if it doesn’t take race and income disparity into account. We cannot sever the environmental conversation from the socioeconomic conversation.  Instead we are challenged to consciously bring both to the table in order to build a movement that addresses the needs of the whole community.

A postcard image of the Kodak factory, a major source of pollution to nearby neighborhoods in Rochester, NY

People normally think of environmentalism as the idea that we need to protect “nature”the land, water, and wildlife that generally exist surrounding of our own neighborhoods. While we absolutely do need to protect those things, this still is an incomplete picture.

Environmentalism also seeks to affect the places all people live and work.  We need to plant and protect urban greenery, and ensure that all neighborhood areas are free of pollution and pesticides.    

Protesters marching in Flint, MI, where the water is still unsafe to drink.

There’s a misconception that people of color don’t care about the environment, but that is far from the truth.

In a 2018 survey about diversity in environmental groups, the Environmental Defense Fund found that all the groups surveyed said they perceived that white people cared the most about the environment. In actuality, white people came in last when asked about the level of their concern about the environment. This misconception is harmful to the environmental movement as a whole.

In an interview, Professor Dorceta E. Taylor, author and leader of the environmental group Green 2.0, says: “Our lived experiences with the environment are different… But overall, we want the same thing: safe places to live, work and play, clean spaces and sustainable, long-lasting communities.” 

Dorceta E. Taylor, author of the book Toxic Communities: Environmental racism, industrial pollution, and residential mobility

Environmental Racism

It’s important to acknowledge that marginalized groups like Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities experience the highest levels of harm from climate change and pollutionhence the term environmental racism.

It’s an essential part of our work to learn what’s needed from those who live in poorer communities and respond to those needs. Social and political collaboration creates a movement that’s much more diverse and effective for all. 


Planting trees together is an enjoyable part of collaborative greening.
Volunteers for RAICA (Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action). Photo Credit: Dave Inglis

Root Issues

Without intersectional environmentalism, we are only solving the part of the problem we can see.  But no one can solve a problem (that really exists) we can’t see! That’s why it’s vital to make the root issues visible.



Why Black Lives Matter to Frogs 

And that’s also why you’re reading about this on a frog blogbecause intersectional environmentalism is so important. A Frog House was born out of a desire to protect frogs and our ecosystem. If we don’t take care of the whole systemthe green spaces, the urban areas, and the people who live therewe are failing our favorite animals. 


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Below, you’ll find the social media handles to some diverse groups that are doing incredible environmental justice work. We hope you’ll take a moment to follow these accounts and find out a little more about these organizations.