2012 State of Diversity and the Environment Blog Carnival

Welcome to the third Rooted in the Earth Blog Carnival!

People of color faced many obstacles in 2010 and 2011 including higher rates of unemployment during the Great Recession and increased conservatism concerning diversity/ethnicity in the US. There has also been much to celebrate with an African American president and a growing Latina/o population. I wondered in 2012, the new year, if the same ups and downs are true, when it comes to those working and serving for diversity (people of color) and the environment. Personally, I can count more than twenty people of all ethnicities I can reach out to with expertise concerning people of color and the environment. Five years ago, the ranks were thinner. At the same, time I sense some (justice) fatigue among the ranks.

I am sending a call for blogs responding to a the state of diversity and the environment in 2012. I will include your name, organization, a personal/non-profit description, and blog/website. The blog carnival is broad enough to include stories about nascent environmental movements among and concerning people of color, projects-in-progress that will help to grow the movement, ideas for the future, and more. For those who do not blog, please contact me directly so we can work together to add your perspective to the blog carnival.

Submit your blog to 2012 State of Diversity and the Environment by January 19th. All blogs will be subject to review based on suitability to the topic.

Dianne Glave

Advertisements

The Other Guys: Irony of the Toyota Prius and a New York Food Desert

The film The Other Guys starring two middle-aged guys who play middle aged guys is ironic in an America where we worship youth. It will be top-grossing this weekend despite ageism. Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), are the principal characters playing what is often young(ish) buff men in cop buddy films. There’s the Lethal Weapon movies: Riggs was young and buff and ok, Murtagh was middle-aged and not so buff. Some might describe all of this as buddy-cop satire.

The Other Guys opens with P. K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwanyne Johnson), caricature of super-cops so different from Gamble and Hoitz. The latter pairing is buff–ok Danson is buff. Both Highsmith and Danson are trash-talking womanizing police officers beloved by all of New York City. They also drive a gas guzzling muscle car that is destroyed twice in the movie. Oh and yeah, do you think the two men of color driving the anti-environmental car beat the stereotype of being offed early in the movie? Watch and see. Maybe they have to go because they don’t care about the environment. Ha.

Gamble and Hoitz, our middle-aged cop buddies, tool and chase around NYC in a kinder gentler vehicle: the Toyota Prius. Their car really reflects their age, that would be middle, although Hoitz is angry about being in a lady-car.

The Prius that does an average of 50 mpg is a central character much like Gamble and Hoitz. The lollipop red vehicle is in a number of scenes including a few chases. It gets dusted in cocaine: Prius owners everywhere are cringing that the car’s clean image is besmirched. When the bad guys steal the Prius by gun-point–everyone wants a Prius, I tell you–it ends up polluted but still chugging. A raccoon gives birth in the car, a mouse is found in the back, and bodily fluids spread all over the car. Hoitz even tosses litter from the passenger side of the Prius, a sacrilege from within such an energy efficient vehicle. The poor Prius is riddled with bullet holes but I bet it’s still getting high mileage to the very end even in the car chases.

That’s not the worst of it. The Other Guys turn New York City, I would argue the culinary capital of the world, into a food desert or a place where you can only get really poor quality food. A hot dog vendor selling dirty dogs from his cart offers Highsmith and Danson hot dogs for life–but no soda–in honor of the pair’s heroics early in the film. Hoitz angrily says he’s heading out for a slice, that’s pizza, probably in search of comfort food because Gamble gets on Hoitz’s nerves. In the squad room, Ritz Crackers and Oreos, product placement abounds, are set strategically behind Hoitz’s head. In the last scene of the movie, Gamble and Hoitz go to Hebrew National Hot Dogs in Coney Island to bond over their heroics. And wait for the bonus scene after the credits, which is filled with  pork fried rice and ribs at Chin Chins. I did see some lettuce in a scene with Gamble and his wife Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Mendes).

All of this has NYC’s urban backdrop of the Trump Tower, the Citibank Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the Empire State Building. For those of us from urban places, more specifically those who worked and/or lived in New York, it’s fun to figure out where the car chases are taking place.

Considering how folks in southern California including the film industry–all of this was tongue-in-check concerning a car and food–subsist on low carbs and farmer’s market vegetables is satiric.

Eva Mendes ugly? Ironic. Will Ferrell as Gamble as a pimp? Ironic. Mark Wahlberg liking being a traffic cop? Ironic.

All-in-all, some funny Saturday Night Live skits strung together that taken together don’t make much sense. Still it was funny.

Guest Blog: EcoSoul’s Eco Trauma and the Gulf Oil Spill

I am grateful that I am getting know the person behind EcoSoul on FB. EcoSoul is doing important work in health and spirituality: “EcoSoul is a healing arts practice based in Oakland, CA dedicated to raising awareness of the health benefits of Mindfulness and connecting to the natural world. Join us the 3rd Saturday of every month for Bay Area Nature Strolls for People of Color.” (EcoSoul FB)  

Grand Isle, Louisiana, 2004

I was moved by EcoSoul’s musings on the Gulf Oil Spill:

I find myself near tears every time I see images of the disaster caused by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve resorted to not reading everything that is posted on FB nor watching much television but as I spend time in South Texas with my family I am reminded of the intimate connection I have had with the Gulf. It is the first natural body of water I ever swam in, and it is the body of water that gave me the taste of my first shrimp. It is the place I spent time with my mother as a child; just she and I walking along the beach enjoying each others company. I am grateful for the Gulf and as a spiritual person who is an Oricha priest I recognize the natural spirit of Yemaya as a deity of nurturance and family and abundance and the home of the millions of ancestors that did not survive the Middle Passage. I weep for all that humans have done to desecrate the earth, sky and sea. We have become alienated against nature, due to a variety of reasons but now we have the opportunity to reconnect, to wake up and recognize that we are not separate from nature and all of it is sacred. This is a revolutionary idea for some; the belief and understanding that nature is sacred, that there are messages of healing and hope found in the bosom of the earth if only we would make ourselves available to listen. So as we take in the trauma of seeing millions of gallons of oil in the gulf and the many animal and plant life that have been destroyed honor the trauma that you feel–it means you are ALIVE and a feeling sentinent being; you are not strange, or too sensitive you are a human being that recognizes and feels your connection to all beings not just the two legged.

Pier on Grand Isle, Louisiana, 2004

An Ecotherapy blog post by Linda Buzzel states that psychology is gaining a better understanding of the impact of second hand trauma on the human psyche. And because of the ubiquity of the environmental and human disasters we now face, most of us suffer from it. According to the psychologist Peter Levine the author of “Waking the Tiger: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences” animals deal with trauma by literally shaking it off and going on with life, and not getting themselves stuck in the fight, flight freeze syndrome that keeps humans in a constant state of stress.

The new field of ecotherapy suggests we develop strategies to learn how to deal with this type of trauma. Reconnecting with nature through ritual, joining a local conservation group, advocating for environmental justice, and reducing our consumption of oil are some strategies for healing the trauma and pain we may feel.

May we all find our way back home to our true nature, may our prayers of healing extend to our nonhuman allies and may we shake off this trauma so that we can be awake and grounded to make sure that it never happens again.

PHOTOS BY DIANNE GLAVE