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They Can’t Breathe

This season on Connect the Dots, we’re looking at people living in the cross hairs of climate change, those disproportionately carrying the burden of the world and suffering on a daily basis. 

African Americans and people of color make up one of these communities. Packed into neighborhoods surrounded by smokestacks and highways that are unusually susceptible to floods, blocked from greenspaces and left without a voice, African Americans face a dire physical and mental toll when it comes to climate change, including high rates of cancer and respiratory illnesses. Exploring these and related issues in this episode are CPR Member Scholar Maxine Burkett, the Sierra Club’s Leslie Fields, and Bronx resident and activist Mychal Johnson. 

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Maxine Burkett is a Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a Member Scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform. She teaches Climate Change Law and Policy, Torts, Ocean and Coastal Law, and International Environmental Law. View bio.
Leslie G. Fields, Esq., is Senior Director, Environmental Justice and Healthy Communities for the Sierra Club. She brings more than 20 years of federal, state, local, and international environmental justice and environmental law and policy experience to the Sierra Club. View bio.

Mychal Johnson is co-founder of South Bronx Unite, a coalition of residents, organizations and allies confronting policies that perpetuate harm and building support for viable community-driven solutions in the South Bronx, where one in five children suffer from asthma because of the oversaturation of industrial facilities, diesel truck-intensive businesses, and decades of neglect.  View bio.

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We’re also grateful to the musical artists featured in this episode, who make their work available to us through a Creative Commons license. Please check them out!