WBUR, January 2021
Most discussions of institutional racism focus on schools, housing and the criminal justice system. But our energy system – how we power our lights and gas up our cars – can also enforce racism. That’s because most of our energy comes through a system of “extraction and pollution” – we take stuff out of the ground, burn it to make energy, and dump the pollution somewhere — usually in a poor neighborhood or community of color.
The next decade offers an opportunity to upend that system, as the world switches from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. And while energy policy may seem a long way from the fight for racial justice, Shalanda Baker argues that it’s a critical part of the discussion.
“The energy system is not immune from this broader reckoning with racial and social justice,” Baker, a professor of law, public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University, says.