Let’s keep it real ya’ll. When you hear the words clean energy the first thing that comes to mind are bland Triscits and Al Gore. What doesn’t come to mind are hip-hop, community involvement, and real people living day-to-day, making a way to survive.
However, this Black History Month, the Hip Hop Caucus (the same folk that brought you “Vote or Die” and “Make Hip Hop Not War)” has teamed up with the Alliance for Climate Protection and the Repower America Campaign to travel the country spreading the word about clean energy and bridging the gap between the people and the insider world of climate politics.
Since President Obama declared in his State of the Union speech that the nation’s future is in building a clean energy economy, we’ve been bombarded with messages telling us we need it. You might be wondering, “What is clean energy, anyway?”
Clean energy is energy that is renewable, safe and that does not pollute the planet, our air, and our people. Make no mistake about this, because you’re going to continue to hear a lot of people tell you over the next year and the next decade that so-called “clean coal” and nuclear energy are good options to invest in. In reality, every day power plants ooze out dirty energy like coal, petroleum oil and nuclear energy.
For example, the South Side of Chicago is right next to the Crawford Coal Fired Power Plant. Through the window of the local high school you can see the smokestacks busting out black plumes of ash that fall onto the community members. One-in-five school-aged children in the surrounding area of the Crawford Power Plant now have asthma, which many feel is directly connected to the pollution caused by the plant. In the South Bronx, where Hip Hop was born, residents face their own share of environmental concerns, from illegal dumping of toxic chemicals to massive job loss due to the economic recession.
It’s not just Chicago and the South Bronx. The consequences of dirty energy are being seen all over the country and the world. Need a recap? Hurricane Katrina, oil spills in the Gulf Coast and Snowmaggedon. Don’t listen to Fox news, the recent snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic are directly connected to climate change, which is largely caused by the over use of dirty energy like coal and oil.
However, there is another way and now is the perfect time to take life by the horns and remix our economy.
The Energy Action Coalition and the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative have signed on to support the Clean Energy Now Bus tour because we know that this moment in time is the critical bridge in this song called life. As Hip Hop came on the scene over 30 years ago and changed the whole way we looked at music and urban culture, it is the same way we need to look at this emerging clean energy economy. We can create a world where school children in Little Village, Chicago, don’t look out the window and see smoke stacks and grey clouds, but wind turbines and clear skies. This is the time where we can change the meaning of grinding for the green, and more of us can get that Russell Simmons-type dough.
So if you are tired of spending all your paycheck on gas money, taking your kid to the doctor because of asthma attacks, finding out