Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Doubles Down On Renewable Energy Link To Racial Justice

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lifts microphone to her mouth as she stresses her point with her hands.
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter on Friday to counter the sea of criticism she’s been facing over her bold declaration that the government’s commitment to an ambitious ‘Green New Deal’ would, in part, amount to the deliverance of racial justice in America.

Earlier this week, The Hill cited Ocasio-Cortez as having challenged lawmakers to embrace a sweeping environmental economic agenda as “the civil rights movement of our generation.” The quote was pulled from remarks she made during the Nation‘s ‘Solving Our Climate Crisis’ national town hall featuring author Bill McKibben, actress Shailene Woodley, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. In the days since her Roosevelt-inspired vision made the rounds, more has been made of the semantics of the congresswoman-elect’s speech than the actual program she was pushing.

In various tweets gathered by Yahoo Lifestyle, opponents question Ocasio-Cortez’s intelligence for tying racism to environmental policy. Much of the blowback has been triggered by a portion of her speech — that went viral via a video clip — which shows the 29-year-old Bronx native predicting that not only is the creation of a thriving green industry inevitable by way of 100 percent renewable energy, but that it will serve as a vehicle to “establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States” as well.

Ocasio-Cortez has gone on to retweet the article in an effort to provide context that might deepen the understanding of her assertion and claims. In its caption she cites the Flint water crisis, the quality of Bronx air, the destruction of Appalachian mining towns, and the federal government’s response to Hurricanes Maria and Katrina as examples of how structural racism in environmental policy planning has led to the detriment of marginalized communities, that are often predominantly comprised of people of color.

Ocasio-Cortez’s approach to the environment as a social issue, and one that is especially critical for the racially disenfranchised, is for the most part in line with that which has been taken on by the larger Democratic Socialist movement. In the racial justice section of Sen. Sanders’ website, for example, it is recognized that “People of color disproportionately experience a daily assault on their health and environment.”

“Communities of color are the hardest hit by air and water pollution from industrial factories, power plants, incinerators, chemical waste and lead contamination from old pipes and paint,” Sen. Sanders writes. “At the same time, they lack access to parks, gardens and other recreational green space.”