Hello Forest Friends!
We are almost halfway through California Latino Heritage Month, and EPIC would like to express our appreciation for all the hard work that Latinos bring to the conservation movement. Immigrants are generally some of the most environmentally conscious communities in the United States, and Latino communities have a sense of connection to the natural world because of our cultural ties with Catholicism that dictate us to be stewards of the natural world. Although not all within the Latino community subscribe to Catholicism, many of us, in one way or another, were affected and/or surrounded by values rooted in Catholicism.
Some examples that my community is proud of are reusing water and containers, recycling cans, taking public transportation, growing vegetables, seed saving, and taking special care of our material items so they last. These actions may seem small, but they add up. Latino neighborhoods use 40% less energy than White neighborhoods do – demonstrating the positive impact of the lifestyle of these natural stewards.
In “Beyond Solar Panels and Priuses: The Overlooked Environmentalism of Latinx Catholics,” Amanda Baugh describes how although the Latinx communities in this country are incredible environmentalists, the environmental movement is most often framed as being led by “politically progressive, predominately white religious activists”. The main environmentalist discourse often leaves out some of the communities that tirelessly work to preserve our natural environment throughout their everyday lives. There is a reason for this. John Muir, a well-cited environmentalist who based his beliefs and actions on anti-Indigenous rhetoric, is one of the most cited founders of the environmental movement. Credit for the environmental movement historically goes to men who look like and sometimes even think like Muir because oftentimes those with the time and capital to give towards the conservation movement are wealthy white folk – but that is changing.
The Power in Nature Coalition, of which EPIC is an active member, has been taking steps to uplift members of the Latino community that are working in the environmental movement and highlighting why they do this important conservation work. Watch uplifting testimonial videos by CalWild’s André Sanchez and EPIC’s Josefina Barrantes (with more videos to come through October 15th!).
When we celebrate and glamorize individuals who base their beliefs on dehumanizing and genocidal rhetoric, it does a disservice to the communities that work tirelessly every day to be good stewards of the Earth. Indigenous and immigrant communities have always and will always be the first to fight against colonial forces that degrade our natural world.
Happy Latino Heritage Month!