Tamara is a native New Yorker and environmentalist focused on equity, access and community. She develops capacity building programs and creates multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access healthy air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional, and national level.
Tamara is the executive director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) based in Baltimore, Maryland. MdEHN levels the playing field for vulnerable populations in service to its mission to promote the elimination of exposures to environmental threats to improve human health.
Tamara casts a wide net in service to the environmental community. Among other activities, she is the co- chair of the DC chapter of EcoWomen. DC EcoWomen is a community of approximately 6,000 professional women who inspire each other to create a healthy and equitable society. During her tenure on the Executive Board she has held several positions including vice president of Professional Development where she produced the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum – EcoHour.
Tamara is the vice chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments: Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee, where she advocates for meaningful engagement and responsive public resources. She is a director on the Board of Directors for Women’s Voices for the Earth, a mighty organization based in Missoula, Montana, where she supports science based advocacy that gives voice to women fighting to protect their health from toxic chemicals. She is also co-chair of the Green Leadership Trust.
She received has a JD and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a BA in Political Science from
The City College of New York.
Baltimore is a Black city. Baltimore is where the Civil War started and while it was on the side of the Union, it is also the birthplace of redlining and currently in its infrastructure has some of the most extreme examples of the difference between being Black in the United States and being white in the United States.
We spoke to Dr. Lawrence Brown associate professor at Morgan State University in the School of Community Health and Policy to learn more about Baltimore’s racial apartheid and to compare the green space in Baltimore’s predominantly white Bolton Hill to the green space in Sandtown-Winchester.
Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Wilkinson co-curated two of the inaugural exhibitions for the new museum: A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond and A Century in the Making: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Wilkinson is also developing the museum’s collections in architecture and design.
Prior to NMAAHC, Wilkinson spent six years as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. In that capacity, she curated over twenty exhibitions, including A People’s Geography: The Spaces of African American Life and two award-winning shows—Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists and For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People.
She has also worked at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Wilkinson contributed essays to New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement and Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship. Her writing has also appeared in the International Review of African American Art, ARC Magazine: Contemporary Caribbean Visual Art and Culture, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and Revue Noire: Art Contemporain Africain, among others. Wilkinson’s current research project, “V is for Veranda,” about architectural heritage in the Anglophone Caribbean, has been presented to international audiences in Suriname, England, India, and the United States. Wilkinson is active in several associations in the museum field. She served on the Inclusion and Access Task Force of the Association of Art Museum Curators and she is on the board of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL). As a CCL fellow in 2012, Wilkinson completed a short-term residency at the Design Museum in London.
She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
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Newburgh was the headquarters of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. It was also the second place in the United States to have streets lighted by electricity. But Newburgh is currently a Black(ish) city. A Black city that rural people from the south moved to looking for a better life at a factory and they found one –for a brief moment, but then all the jobs were taken away. Newburgh was currently the Black city that I was looking for coffee in. That is when I found Blacc Vanilla. Blacc Vanilla is a coffee shop. If an En Vogue video morphed into a coffee shop, it would be this coffee shop. I ordered a mocha with almond milk and asked for the wifi code. The wifi code was M*E*L*A*N*I*N. When you come into Blacc Vanilla, Melanie and Jerrod greet you, they own the shop. Jerrod grew up in Newburgh. We all chatted and found out we had similar interests and histories, one of those being bicycles and the other being Black liberation. Melanie explained that her and Jerrod wanted to have a bicycle giveaway. She said at first she was going to have the kids earn a bike, but then thought, every kid should have a bike. Having a bike is normal. Why do Black kids have to earn things that other people just get for being alive? As a radical person who understands child development, behaviorism, and psychology, I definitely approved her message. Access to good health should not have to be earned. This made me think about the systematic institutional racism that impacts the transportation infrastructure, urban planning, the indoor built environment, and the outdoor air quality in Black communities and how normalized Black suffering is. (more…)
Therese McMillan assumed the position of Chief Planning Officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“LA Metro”) in April 2016. In that capacity, she provides executive leadership for Metro’s planning, grant funding, and real estate functions. Key responsibilities include implementing the agency’s “Measure M” transportation sales tax ordinance; developing the countywide long range transportation plan; strategic fund program administration; and focused initiatives in transportation equity, “active transportation” planning and projects, and Metro’s contributions to the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Prior to joining LA Metro, Ms. McMillan served as the Acting Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) of the US Department of Transportation. During her almost 7 years at FTA, McMillan led reforms in transit safety, emergency response and resiliency investment; capital planning and oversight, and civil rights program development and oversight, including Title VI and ADA.
Before her career at FTA, McMillan was Deputy Executive Director of Policy at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional planning and funding agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay area. During her time with MTC, Therese was an instructor in transportation funding and finance at the Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose State University. She earned her B.S. degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning at UC Davis, and joint Master’s degrees in City and Regional Planning, and Civil Engineering Science at UC Berkeley.
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This Monday they will say that anti-racists outnumbered the white supremacists, but the fact is DC is the chocolate city and it’s become the caramel city owing to the white supremacists involved in creating its urban planning, transportation, political, and economic policies.
The Black people in DC can’t even access the Metro during business hours, but Metro closes an entrance for white supremacists? Almost twice as many white people in DC take the Metro to work than Black people, in fact white people are so close to their jobs they can walk to work, more white people have the privilege to walk to work, 19,000, than Black people have access to the Metro, 16,000.
The racism that has long been experienced by the Black community in DC is racism under soft power. In S&M this is called soothing before the beaten. It is how you soften someone up, so they are less likely to complain or cry when you give a really good punch. You make a little bit of pain normal, so then when you unleash your real self, there is less squirming. Sadistic racism is normalized in DC, institutional and personal. The term soft power in politics, but they say it means persuasion or co-opting, like you co-opt Black politicians to smile in photos and not do anything when the people who voted them into office are moved out of their homes through economic violence and then you persuade Black people to live far away from the train on the other side of the river by not giving them a loan to buy a house by the train, yeah I guess that is persuasion. According to DC Economic Strategy the median income of Black people in DC is $44,000 the median income of white people in DC is $154,000. The Black DC community bears the brunt of automated and human policing.
Much of the Black community is segregated to the east side of the Anacostia River. These communities are the last to get the benefits of urban planning and dollars spent on infrastructure. The Black community is the first to be mocked as the old DC. The Washingtonian a trendy magazine even had a campaign to show that DC is whiter now (so better) with white people smiling under a #ImNotATourist hashtag and wearing I’m not a tourist T-shirts. Not one Black person in the photo shoot. There is no attempt to hide the contempt of the Black community in DC. I’ve been to DC three times and if I don’t make an effort, I will never see a Black person. The first time I did not see any Black people. I went to a coffee shop that played jazz music, with Black people on the walls, and I was the only real Black thing there. The white supremacists didn’t just come to DC this weekend, protected by the DC police with a private train and entrance from Metro, they’ve been there. They go to work every morning on the Metro. White supremacists have silently shown themselves for years in DC. They have shown themselves in the policies they have created, supported, and implemented, policies that have robbed DC’s Black residents’ of their voices, economic opportunities, and now their homes.
The fight for Black people to get their share of protection under the Clean Air Act (CAA) has been going on since, 1963, the year the CAA was introduced. The CAA was the first federal law that had embedded in it a statue to control air pollution, not just observe air pollution, but control it. The CAA in 1970 created and then directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set minimally safe acceptable standards for pollution activities by corporations and individuals.
The EPA does not have a strong racial equity policy in regards to enforcing the CAA, not amongst the people who get the contracts to build and design homes and buildings and not amongst the Black community that is still highly impacted by racist policies that have the Black community living in neighborhoods with the most unclean air in the United States.
The EPA did not open an Environmental Justice office until 1992 and as we have come to learn, justice is not equity. Justice attempts to make things fair right now, equity makes up for what was unfair in the past and makes up for those past injustices. To quote the Rose Joshua, Esq, President of the NAACP, Southside of Chicago branch, “Equity is reparations.” (more…)
While utilitarian cycling is becoming more racially diverse, a 2010 study states that 23% of utilitarian cyclists are Asian-American, Latinx, or Black. There is still a problem The infrastructure for Black, Latinx, and Asian-Americans is woefully inadequate and not only that it is purposefully inadequate for the convenience of the middle class (that’s code for white people.) In general, cities and counties idea of cycling is recreational. Getting cycling accessible to hyper-segregated communities is not only challenging, but nearly impossible, especially when kudos continue to be given for just the act of carFREE parks and wilderness areas, where road, mountain, and other recreational cyclists practice.
This is problematic, because road and mountain cycling are unabashedly very white, very male, and both take a large amount of economic and social capital to participate.
What message does it send to Latinx and Asian-American delivery cyclists? What message does it send to working class Black people who use their bike to get home. People who use their bike, because of poor bus and train service and housing on the outskirts owing to racism, which makes cycling not a choice, but a requirement, but sadly only for the young and able bodied, because the streets where Latinx and Black people live are some of the most dangerous and inhospitable to people who walk and ride their bike. White people get a carFREE park and a new train and we get run over for just crossing the street?
It is noticeable to Black and Latinx communities that the only place in many cities where you can get some infrastructure is one where you have a loud and vocal demographic of roadies.
Is the only voice that matters for bike and public transportation infrastructure, a white and male one who bikes in the Switzerland during the summer?
I am a utilitarian cyclist, like many people of color who ride a bicycle for transportation. I need a separated bike lane on Bloomfield in NJ, Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. I don’t need a place to clear my head and I don’t need or care about riding my bicycle to Canada. I need to get to work.
I know in cycling we’re supposed to not separate the roadies from the utilitarian cyclists, but in my opinion roadies are bringing their white supremacist all male hobby perspective (we’re still having firsts Black people moments in roadie and mountain cycling in 2018, which is not only ridiculous, but disgraceful) into a lane that is harmful to the average person just trying to get home. This entire country was built for the benefit of rich white men and rich white men shouldn’t get to ride their bikes first, just because they are rich white men. If you spend money on an all white and practically all male hobby (and the women division is even more white than the men,) I don’t know how well you can speak on issues of equity, being fair, and being just when you only do it Monday-Friday from 9-5 p.m. I don’t know how you can advocate for fairness, when your free time is spent on a hobby that has no problem being racist, sexist, and classist. In part B will address some concrete ways to address these issues. Lark Lo