Green Job Creation: The Power Lies with the People

Authors: Ahmina Maxey, Fellow Candidate, Class 5 The Congressional Black Caucus' For the People Jobs Initiative town hall and job fair were held on Tuesday, August 16th, in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan. It was a lively and emotion-filled event; although I arrived to the town hall on time, the room was so packed full of people that I had to stand in line for 15 minutes just to get a seat. The event featured five members of the Congressional Black Caucus: Representatives Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), John Conyers (D-MI), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). These representatives discussed the issue of joblessness in the black community and put forth their proposed solutions: prioritizing comprehensive job creation legislation; fostering cooperation between the public and private sectors; and most importantly, increasing pressure from the black community. Despite the common belief that people in Detroit are disenfranchised, the number of people that filled the town hall proved otherwise. Detroiters want to work and have access to jobs; yet many feel a sense of desperation and anger when they apply for job after job after job and come out empty-handed. It was this emotion of anger and desperation that was palpable amongst the crowd at the town hall. It was this emotion that prompted Representative Waters to say, "The power lies with the people!" I agree with Rep. Waters, we must use this raw emotion and turn it into power – power to pressure President Obama to create jobs in the black community.  As we pressure our representatives and the President to bring jobs to Detroit, we must also be sure to ask that these jobs not pollute our bodies or environment. Detroit is a city that has faced environmental injustice for years, and we do not want more of the same – polluting oil refineries, incinerators, wastewater treatment plants, diesel traffic – we want jobs in the Green Economy! Michigan's Representative Hansen Clarke feels the same way, stating that he will prioritize job creation that "doesn't require burning of fossil fuels or the burning of trash to create energy". He emphasized that there is the potential for green job creation in Detroit in three areas: mass transit, clean energy, and energy efficiency. However, for green job creation to happen in Detroit we must demand it! We must not only scream at those that are trying to help us, but we must also scream where our voices need to be heard… in Washington D.C.

Ahmina Maxey — Detroit, MI

Ahmina S. Maxey is the Associate Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council in Detroit, MI. She directs the Stand Up! Speak Out! program – the advocacy arm of EMEAC. Stand Up! Speak Out! and its programs and activities are designed to advocate for environmental justice in Southeast Michigan through policy initiatives while encouraging community involvement through youth and adult education...

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