Prior to being ousted by the White House after coming under attack from the conservative right and their media arm, Van Jones was recognized as an acclaimed activist and environmental leader. It was this background that had many people encouraged regarding full participation in the “green economy” when Jones was announced as the “green czar”.
In his book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, he literally defined the “green economy”. Further in the book he challenges oil dependence, a sagging economy, and global warming itself, transforming these looming threats into enormous financial opportunities.
The book defines green-collar jobs as: “blue-collar employment that has been upgraded to better respect the environment.” These jobs are also family-supporting. They provide career-track, vocational, or trade-level employment in environmentally-friendly fields.
Some examples include electricians who install solar panels; plumbers who install solar water heaters; farmers engaged in organic agriculture and some bio-fuel production; and construction workers who build energy-efficient green buildings, wind power farms, solar farms, and wave energy farms
“We can’t drill and burn our way out of our problems. But we CAN invent and invest our way out.”
In order to get Blacks fully engaged in the green economy, the US needs a different kind of environmentalism. Not just lily-white, tree-hugger types, but one deeply rooted in the lives and struggles of urban and ordinary people. The message of The Green Collar Economy is clear: “Give the work that most needs to be done to the people who most need the work,” solving two pressing problems—pollution and poverty—at once.
It is up to the Black community to continue to advance and demand inclusion in the green economy. We cannot sit back while other groups are trained, trade unions (that have discriminated against Blacks) corner the weatherization market, and the capital that allows business formation, development and expansion bypasses Black entrepreneurs.
This is happening on our watch. The results will be felt a hundred years from now. We need Black workers trained so they will be employed to install solar panels, harness wind power, build hybrid engines, etc., which will create a green collar workforce.
Black Economic Development can accept nothing less in these critical times when everyone is fighting for allocation and their share of scarce resources. Are you willing to fight for your future, your young, and your seniors? Or will you sit idly by and watch things happen. If you’ve made it this far, I think I know your answer.
Don’t stop now. Spread the word and let’s capitalize on the green future and build generational wealth.