Race/Racism

Speaking Up and Acting Out: Black Activism Is Creating Change

From stopping an oil pipeline to getting reparations, protesting anti-Black injustice is getting results

Stephanie Siek
Momentum
Published in
4 min readJul 9, 2021

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

This news roundup usually points out and discusses stories about anti-Black racism, and though I try to include at least one feel-good item every week, it’s generally a necessarily sobering read. But this week, I can start off with some good news, for a change? We’ve got several stories about how protesting anti-Black injustice is getting results, from stopping an oil pipeline to getting reparations (of a kind) for a Georgia neighborhood erased by urban renewal.

Activism works

Plans to build an oil pipeline that would have run under several predominantly Black Memphis neighborhoods have been canceled after strong opposition from environmental and community activists. Critics of the project feared that a leak or spill could contaminate groundwater, as well as nearby wetlands and waterways. “Opponents said the plans reminded them of environmental racism — the practice of placing toxic factories, landfills and other polluters in minority neighborhoods and indigenous areas, where voiceless residents only realize the danger after people get sick,” Adrian Sainz wrote for The Associated Press. The two companies building the pipeline have rejected allegations of racism and say the plans were scrapped due to “lower U.S. oil production,” but it seems clear that community opposition described in Sainz’s article — which included rallies, legal action, and proposed legislation — influenced the decision.

Are swim caps for Black swimmers back in the game?

Swimming regulatory body FINA now says it will review its decision to ban swim caps designed for Black hair from competitions like the Olympics, after much outcry from Black athletes. FINA, also known as the International Swimming Federation, said in a statement: “FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products…

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Stephanie Siek
Momentum

Stephanie Siek is a writer and editor who loves cats, cookie dough and aborted alliteration.