My friends: “Things ain’t what they used to be.” Our movement has come so far, but we have so much more to do. Our opponents have consolidated and gotten bigger and stronger. As recent infrastructure negotiations in Washington have demonstrated, the line between elected official and paid corporate lobbyist has become so slim as to be barely perceptible.
Yet, every single day in America, millions are exposed to deadly chemicals dumped on us by greedy companies who care about nothing but their own bottom line.
This toxic cocktail in our air, water, and food isn’t distributed equally, however: poor, working class, immigrant, black, latino, Asian and indigenous communities are intentionally targeted by industry simply because of the assumption they don’t have the means to adequately defend themselves. Lois Gibbs charted a path at Love Canal that anyone can now follow and win: Organize and don’t give up until you get what you want!
For 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of organizing workers to win the union and beat back discrimination and abuse from their bosses, immigrants to win local, state and national policies that makes all our lives better, and for the last 2 years at CHEJ, working and learning from Lois, Stephen and countless other leaders who face daily attacks from some of the biggest companies in the history of the world.
Organizing has given me the opportunities to learn from, and teach others in strategy, nonviolent direct action, communication and recruitment. If anything, the pandemic has reinforced both my belief that our system is rotten, and that the solution depends on our ability to lean on each other to get through it and make real change.
As a formerly undocumented Immigrant from Brazil, I came to the US at age 14. I want to thank my family, Luiz, Angela, Amanda and Sarahi for teaching me the meaning of home, even when we can’t physically be together.
I know very well what it’s like to be a “stranger in a strange land” and feel so alone it’s almost like the whole world is against you. I could barely speak the language and thought I was the only one who felt so out of place. This illusion of loneliness, and the myth of self-reliance, are part of the lies that keep us weak. Most every single leader in our movement experiences moments of burn out and entertains thoughts of giving up. Our organization has to keep deconstructing those lies, so that we can speak truth to power, and whenever we do it, we do it together!
I’m honored that Lois selected me as the next Executive Director of this organization. I’m ready for the challenge and remain committed to continue in her footsteps, always centered in the truth that real change always comes from organized people acting collectively to build power and solve our common problems.
I can’t, and wouldn’t, do this alone. We need each other, and I need you: Please donate tonight, and if you already have, thank you. I will be calling upon each of you to be my partners, my sisters, my brothers, in making this world a much, much better place!
Here’s to the next 40 years, and beyond!
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
P.S. Need to reach me? Send me a note: email@example.com