Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Indiana Environmentalist Breaks the Mold

The LaPorta, Indiana Herald Argus is featuring a profile of local African American Environmentalist Constance Clay, who sees parallels between environmentalism and the civil rights movement.
Anderson said there are barriers environmentalists face in their line of work, which may be compounded for Clay because of her race.
“I understand what northwest Indiana can be like, and racial issues are still prevalent,” he explained. “It’s been a credit to her character that she’s been able to (overcome these obstacles).”
One barrier Clay faced was people questioning her strong advocacy for environmental causes in light of the struggles still faced by people of her race.
She had trouble earning the approval of some members of her policy classes, who felt that a need for public housing, especially for minority groups, superseded the need to maintain green space.
“One of my professors asked me, ‘How do you reconcile being an African American advocating for open green space when there is such a need for public housing?’” Clay said.
But Clay said she doesn’t see her race and her profession as dichotomous.
“My upbringing has taught me that we are all the same,” she said. “We all have the responsibility to be good stewards of the land I think people, regardless of whether it’s an African-American community or a Hispanic community, are realizing (the environment) is something that needs to be valued and considered.”

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