Scholars believe that a combination of a lack of awareness and a relative lack of political and economic influence makes minority communities frequent targets for environmentally hazardous activities. The Black Institute supports and embraces the fair treatment of Black people and all people in all facets of life, therefore we embrace the concept of Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice stands for the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws.
In 2018, TBI penned a report, “Poison Parks,” revealing the use of a toxic herbicide used by the New York City Parks Department. The report encourages legislation that would ban the use and sale of glyphosate to protect the wellbeing of the public, especially the children, the elderly, and pets who are frequent park users. This report built a 2016 initiative TBI partnered on to create an interactive map for New Yorkers to find which parks this toxic herbicide is used in.
Following a proposed regressive tax on plastic bags that would adversely affect working families and seniors TBI worked to implement a pilot program to reduce litter through recycling education. Partnering with tenants’ associations at six New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments citywide, TBI worked to bring at least one program site to each borough. The initiative fused education and art to inform young NYCHA residents about the benefits of recycling in their communities and the ease of recycling plastic bags
The Black Institute has worked on the ground, especially in low income communities, against environmental racism, to keep communities healthy. In 2014, TBI took on the City of New York when it decided to open a waste transfer station on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with truck routes through a NYCHA development. With tens of thousands of children living in the area, the risk of increased asthma rates due to an increase in trucks traveling through the area was a real concern. TBI organized tenants other residents, giving them a voice to fight back against the original plans for the site and the neighborhood surrounding it.