Growing up on the island of Jamaica, I learned the importance of stewarding our environment from an early age. The crystal-clear waters and lush greenery that surrounded me were more than just natural beauty; they were our heritage and our responsibility.
My move to the United States was an eye-opener, as I witnessed how the environment could be treated with disregard and stark environmental disparities in various communities. I knew I needed to make a difference.
My desire to make a difference led me to join the Energy Justice Alliance (EJA). EJA is a Black-led coalition working for justice and clean energy for New York. EJA demands that our voices have a seat at the table when decisions are made about energy.
Joining EJA helped me learn about how dirty power plants hurt Black, Brown, and low-income communities. Our utility bills are unfairly high and pollution makes our air unhealthy to breathe. This is environmental injustice. Today, I serve as EJA’s Youth Advocate, where I speak to other youth about why it’s important for us to care about the earth and fight for environmental justice.
In August, I presented my story to the New Rochelle Eco Ambassadors, who spent the summer testing water samples, cleaning up polluted streams, and learning how to improve our environment. These experiences reinforce to me and other young people that the Earth is not just a floating rock; it’s a mother to all life within itself.
Then, earlier this month, I joined EJA and fellow youth activists at the March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC. Over 75,000 people took to the streets to demand that President Biden take bold action on climate change. I marched for clean air to breathe, quality jobs for our families, and a planet where our lands and oceans thrive. I marched for the young Black and Brown voices of New York like mine who are impacted by pollution. We need to close New York’s power plants and stop burning fossil fuels. Marching brought me a sense of hope.
Let’s continue to raise our voices, demand change, and work together to create a world where we can nurture our planet, just as it has nurtured us for generations. The Earth is more than a floating rock; it’s our home, our mother, and our shared responsibility. I’d like to ask you to join EJA! Together, we can build a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.
Marissa Glaze, 19, is a Mount Vernon Resident and Youth Advocate with the Energy Justice Alliance
Cover Photo: Marissa Glaze and the Energy Justice Alliance at the People vs. Fossil Fuels march (photo credit: Raya Salter)