EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Sacoby Wilson

EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Sacoby Wilson


You know being an academic, you know, I have
one foot in academia and one foot out. I see my role as getting resources for the community
groups, make sure they have the resources to do the work they want to do. But in some
cases academia can really be very extractive, and even though people may be doing good
work, the way academia is set up, we can publish a lot of papers but those papers might not
lead to change. We can go to a lot of conferences but those conferences aren’t reducing the
disparities in those communities. So really what’s important to me is to really partner
with those communities, really have them drive and lead the work and understand that, you
know, they are contextual experts. There’s a reason for that. So, when you work in a
community where they find out: There’s lead, mercury, and arsenic in the soil. It’s in
my body. It shouldn’t be in my body. That galvanizes a community. That in many ways
connects the community back to that sort of spirit, that fighting spirit, once they get
that information. So I really, the reason why I’m passionate about this is because when
we can get them the data, get them the information, you have people kind of come out, it’s a transformation
in the community. Because, when you think about it, when you get educational sort of
knowledge, when you get new knowledge, you increase literacy, right? Then you empower
them, right, you increase capacity and then you have more capacity and the organizational
level and at the community level. Then they can really go use information, apply it to impact
change. But unless they know about it they can’t go through that transformative process.
So there is a continuum when you have, you know, that educational sort of injection. So it’s very
important for me in my work. You know I’m collecting all this data, which is great,
and we’re doing this research, but the most important thing I do when I work in a community is the
educational part. The educational sort of enrichment leads to collective action. It
leads to people really seeing themselves in a different way. It leads to people being
more positive about the situation they are finding themselves in. It leads to community
members being hopeful, you know. Hopeful about the future and hopeful about change. So I
think, regardless of what we do as academics, regardless of what we do as researchers, if
we can empower people through education, I think we have done our job.

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2 thoughts on “EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Sacoby Wilson

  1. Dr. Wilson great job with making sure that Communities are equal partners in the process! I hope more Academics are following your lead.

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