The Two-Sided Tree

628 total words    

3 minutes of reading

Two black and white silhouettes of trees: on the left, a white tree on a black background, and on the right: a black tree on a white background

A seed planted in the soil that stretches far like a branch
Working as one, a collective, like the soldiers of an ant
In fruition does the side grow that is exposed to the sun
And it’s the other side of the tree, full of shade, feeling
that its growth is done

The dichotomy of disparity isn’t the same
Nature is supposed to be pure
Full of camaraderie and growth
Instead one side changes fast
while the other changes slow

Nature is supposed to be the cure
Not divisive, nor discriminatory
Instead one side is damaged
while the other seeks eternal glory

One drop of the elixir of life would prove best for both
But equality doesn’t live when one side wants to
experience a bigger growth

What I’m talking about isn’t false
Not a tale, story, or fiction
What I’m referring to is environmental racism
And the result on the minority neighborhood condition  

Bullard[1]was clear in listing the results,
The fundamental difference of the three
Procedural, geographic, and social
The compromised types of unjust equity  

Fairness in policy is nonexistent and homes are too
close to environmental hazards
The social sphere is filled with constructs, such as
politics, race, and all the things that don’t matter 

Bullard hoped that this injustice would be answered
With just five simple steps
The first is environmental protection
And the last is to reduce inequities that we must accept 

The purpose of this piece was to show the consequences
that Black and Brown families must face
Racial tension, health problems, socioeconomic
disparities, and all
Are things that didn’t grow naturally but were put in place 

Environmental racism, injustice, and human rights,
Things that affect a certain group of people 

Lead to the greater problem of climate change and
injustice and deliver a dosage that is lethal 

If we continue to disregard the environmental
discrimination placed on others  

Then we can’t as community fully understand how the
fight for climate change can be recovered 

Bullard wasn’t the only one who tried to understand
There were multiple brave others
Specifically Carrington and Penniman 

Carrington[2] focused mostly on climate change
Through the phrase of climate apartheid
He formed a connection between climate change, poverty, race
And the many other consequences that arise 

Carrington knew that the impacts of climate crises
exacerbated divisions
And our current trajectory isn’t the answer
The lack of adequate policy reform for every individual
Will begin to eat away at our community like a cancer 

Penniman[3] had an interesting start
Being amongst the few black farmers around
But she soon reminded
That our ancestors connected with agriculture in the past,
and this was our stomping grounds  

She aligned her passion with her interest
Although the majority of her colleagues were white
Her answer was land ethic with a social justice mission
And the implementation of better policy was her fight 

She mentions how racism seeped into the food system of
the United States
And as a result became known as food apartheid
The inability to get food that can reduce diet-illness,
another human right denied 

Bullard, Carrington, and Penniman
All describe one important connection
Wealth and access
An interesting concept that can no longer be used as a

Although Black and Brown families will be the first to
feel the harmful effects of environmental injustice it
won’t stop there  

The connection to climate change and climate justice is
too grand, and it will lead to world-wide scare 

We must listen to the facts
And find solutions to these
Policy and awareness must be our
To ensure our tree of life

Instead of taking space
And garnering all resources to
Be selfless and sympathetic
To the people who deserve the
right to good health

Two black and white silhouettes of trees: on the left, a white tree on a black background, and on the right: a black tree on a white background

[1] R.Bullard, “Overcoming Racism in Environmental Decision Making,” in Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, 5th ed., ed. by Louis P. Pojman and Paul Pojman (Wadsworth Publishing, 2007), 644–659.

[2] D. Carrington, “‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive,” The Guardian, June 25, 2019,

[3] L. Penniman, “Black Land Matters,” in Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018): 1–10.






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