Think 100%, Coolest Show on Climate Change” is a ground-breaking weekly radio show and podcast that focuses on building a diverse and empowered movement to fight climate change, environmental injustices, and propel the transition to 100% clean energy for all. The platform will be a vital tool in linking climate and culture, and bringing influences from both worlds together to talk environmental justice and climate change.

The show is hosted by two nationally recognized leaders, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. and Mustafa Santiago Ali. Both hosts bring to the table critical insight and expertise from decades of experience working with vulnerable communities across the United States and beyond. 

Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. Rev Yearwood is a national leader in engaging young people in electoral activism. He leads the national Respect My Vote! campaign and coalition (www.respectmyvote.com). A national leader and pacemaker within the green movement, Rev Yearwood has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy over the past decade. With a diverse set of celebrity allies, Rev Yearwood raises awareness and action in communities that are often overlooked by traditional environmental campaigns and the progressive movement. Rev Yearwood’s innovative stance has garnered the Hip Hop Caucus support from several environmental leaders including the National Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, and former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

Mustafa Santiago Ali is the Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization at Hip Hop Caucus. Mustafa is a renowned national speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator. He specializes in social and environmental justice issues and is focused on a utilizing a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities . He joined the Hip Hop Caucus, after working 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he most recently served as Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization. At the EPA, he elevated environmental justice issues and worked across federal agencies to strengthen environmental justice policies, programs and initiatives. Throughout his career he has worked with over 500 domestic and international communities to improve people’s lives by addressing environmental, health, and economic justice issues.

Tune into “Think 100%, coolest show on climate change” every Tuesday at 6pm EST, or stream live from WPFW. Follow Rev Yearwood (@RevYearwood), Mustafa Ali (@EJinAction), and Hip Hop Caucus @HipHopCaucus on Twitter to stay updated on the latest news, and to get involved in the show.

John Lewis’s Advice For Defending Our Health and the EPA: ‘Get Into Good Trouble’

Mustafa calls out the environmental injustice and disservice the Trump Administration is exhibiting by its attempts to undermine the public health protections and programs many families of color rely on.

This article was originally posted March 19, 2018, on Blavity.com 

In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrated the 20th anniversary of a historic Presidential Executive Order (E.O.12898) declaring action on environmental justice. The guest of honor was Congressman John Lewis, a legendary civil rights champion and an environmental justice advocate. In 1992, he introduced the Environmental Justice Act, the first piece of legislation dedicated to abolishing racial disparities, environmental protection applications. Soon after, the environmental justice program at EPA was established—an office I worked in for almost 25 years.

But given the Trump administration’s intentional neglect of the most basic of EPA’s mandates, I left the agency, and joined the Hip Hop Caucus. We and our partners are committed to transforming our communities from ‘surviving to ‘thriving’. And that means defending against the injustices of pollution and disinvestment.

And the truth is, some injustices are easier to see, like signs hanging above a water fountain or on a bathroom door. Under the surface, systemic harm disproportionately undermining black and brown families continues to fester, demands more thoughtful attention than ever before.

Let’s take the tragic story of Freddie Gray, for example. It’s been a few years since young Freddie Gray died in the back of a police van in Baltimore, Maryland. His death sparked conversation about police brutality, and the criminal justice system. But the untold story is one of unfair environmental harm. It turns out, Freddie grew up in the projects in Baltimore, and was exposed to lead paint chips as a child. Science tells us that exposure to lead at that age seriously inhibits brain development, leading to increased academic struggles and higher rates of youth run-ins with the law. We currently have over one million kids who are suffering from lead poisoning.

When the Trump Administration undermines public health protections and programs families like Freddie’s rely on, communities of color suffer the most. Our safety and our health the first rung on any letter of opportunity. The President and his backers have posed historically deep cuts to cornerstone environmental justice programs and the stripping of grant dollars dedicated to ensuring safe water to drink and clean air to breathe, all while our children suffer from more asthma, our families are exposed to more toxic chemicals, and our neighborhoods deal with higher levels of contaminated water.

A recent investigation into water contamination around the country identified more than 3,000 neighborhood areas with recently recorded childhood lead poisoning rates at least double those found across Flint, Michigan, during the peak of that city’s water contamination a few years ago. In fact, more than 1,000 of those ‘hotspots’ have a rate of elevated blood lead levels higher than Flint’s.

Whether it’s his political delay of the Waters of the United States rule meant to keep sources of drinking water safe from harm—or continual blockage of having EPA do the job Congress gave it to do, Trump’s actions put us in real, measurable danger.

On the heels of Black History Month, we’re reminded that the environmental movement and the civil rights movement are two sides of the same coin: EPA was born from an all-too-familiar compulsion to fight for basic rights—the right to clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land to raise our families.

As he spoke to EPA staff in 2014 upon receiving his award, Congressman Lewis recounted his first recollection, as a young boy in Jim Crow Alabama, seeing entry signs and water fountains labeled ‘colored’ and ‘white’. I was there in the room when he described it in detail. He remembers asking his family why such discrimination existed: “They said, ‘That’s just the way it is. Don’t get in the way. Don’t get in trouble.’”

Today, in this new era of anti-science, racially charged political leadership, as environmental health injustices deepen their roots in black and brown communities, we must endeavor—like generations past—to give voice to the voiceless and fight for a more equitable future.

At the end of his talk at, John Lewis said to all of us in the room: “thank you for getting in the way. Thank you for getting in trouble – good trouble. It’s the necessary thing to do.”

Let’s take a page out of Congressman Lewis’s book. Let’s keep getting into good trouble.

 

About the Author: Mustafa Santiago Ali is a renowned national speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator. Mr. Ali specializes in social and environmental justice issues and is focused on a utilizing a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities. He joined the Hip Hop Caucus after working 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he most recently served as Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization. Throughout his career he has worked with over 500 domestic and international communities to improve people’s lives by addressing environmental, health, and economic justice issues. For more from Mustafa, please be sure to check out Mustafa’s latest appearance on AM Joy, video interview with Robert Reich, and interview on the Politically Re-Active podcast with Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@EJinAction).

 

Respect My Vote! campaign conducting non-partisan onsite voter registration and voter pledge operations in five cities across the country to turn advocacy into power at the polls

Washington, D.C. – On Saturday, March 24th, Hip Hop Caucus is joining March For Our Lives to demand an end to the gun violence that plagues communities across the country. Through Hip Hop Caucus’ Respect My Vote! Campaign, non-partisan voter registration and voter pledge engagement operations will take place in five major cities to ensure young people are able to exercise their power in our democracy during the upcoming midterm elections and beyond. The five cities are: Washington D.C.; Detroit, MI; New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, CA; and, Charlotte, NC. Hip Hop Caucus’ objective is to make sure that this powerful movement for gun reform carries its momentum into lasting positive change for communities on the frontlines of gun violence.

In the 20th century, freedom fighters fought for equality. In the 21st century, we are fighting for existence as we march for our lives,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO. “We stand in solidarity with the amazing young people who so bravely stepped up after the Parkland shooting to say enough is enough. And, we stand in solidarity with the community activists and leaders in Black, Brown and Native communities who have been demanding action on gun violence for years with much less attention. This is a turning point and young people will be going to the polls this November demanding gun reform.”

Hip Hop Caucus supports the March For Our Lives call to enact common-sense gun reform including banning the sale of assault weapons, prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, closing the loophole in our background check law, creating violence prevention programs, and ensuring mental health access for those impacted by exposure to gun violence. To achieve these reforms, Hip Hop Caucus is mobilizing young people who are supporting the March For Our Lives movement to register to vote, start or join voter registration drives, urge elected leaders at all levels of government to pass meaningful gun reform legislation, and support efforts to keep guns off school campuses and out of communities.  

Hip Hop Caucus has been engaged for over a decade in advocacy and educational efforts to address the disproportionate effects and daily impacts of gun violence in vulnerable communities, including urban communities and communities of color. Hip Hop Caucus continues to engage in sustained advocacy focused on engaging local, state and federal government officials, grassroots organizations, cultural influencers, and community leaders in an effort to enact and improve policies to reduce and prevent gun violence.

Solutions to reducing gun violence also come from communities that experience it firsthand. That is why Hip Hop Caucus recently teamed up with the multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning recording artists Black Eyed Peas for the release of their new single and video, “Street Livin”, that drives awareness and a call to action on issues largely impacting communities of color, including gun violence. The call to action on gun violence for the project was put together in partnership with national organizations also led by millenials and people of color, to implement proven strategies to reduce gun violence in cities across the United States.

Respect My Vote! was first launched by Hip Hop Caucus in 2008 and has since engaged millions of people during election cycles throughout the United States. Through partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, media and entertainment companies, and celebrity spokespeople, the non-partisan campaign focuses on voter registration, voter education, get-out-the-vote, and voter rights. Spokespeople have included Vic Mensa, T.I., Charlamagne tha God, Keke Palmer, 2 Chainz, Amber Rose, Future, and hundreds of other artists and community leaders. 

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Press Note: Photo ops and in-person interviews available to reporters in Washington, DC, Charlotte NC, Detroit MI, Los Angeles CA, and New Orleans LA, or over the phone with national leaders and young people who have been personally impacted by gun violence and are organizing for solutions, action from lawmakers, and mobilizing their peers to the polls this November. Feel free to contact me to arrange an interview or cover our activities on Saturday (media@hiphopcaucus.org). Hip Hop Caucus is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 2004 that uses the power of Hip Hop culture to engage and empower young people and communities of color in the civic and political process. Follow us @HipHopCaucus on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook. More at HipHopCaucus.org.

Washington, D.C. – Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President for Climate, Environmental Justice, & Community Revitalization at Hip Hop Caucus, issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s decision to shutdown the federal government.

“President Trump is failing America by choosing politics instead of people. He had the opportunity to support a bipartisan agreement, but chose not to. His decision is an affront to our democracy that will cause harm to the people he is supposed to serve.

Our most vulnerable communities are now at an even greater risk. His decision weakens America’s ability to fight the opioid epidemic, fix the pipes in Flint, and help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands recover and rebuild from record hurricanes. It also leaves 9 million kids who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program out in the cold and threatens the fate of 800,000 DREAMers who are family, friends, and hardworking members of our communities.

Make no mistake: the Trump shutdown is bad for everyone and could have been avoided. While our President continues to undermine our democracy, taxpayers, and communities, people are rising up to organize, take action, and hold our elected officials accountable. This is a critical time for our country and Hip Hop Caucus stands with the people and leaders that are using their power to move all of our communities from surviving to thriving.”

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More about Hip Hop Caucus and Mustafa Santiago Ali is on our new website and follow us @HipHopCaucus on social media (TW/FB/IG).