URL Media Weekly
Friday, October 21, 2022
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 What We're Talking About

WURD Radio hosted its fourth annual ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit in Philadelphia earlier this month. Photo credit: Dan Mall/Unsplash

Are We Truly Free If Our Environment Can't Provide?

Philly Thrive’s goal for the last seven years and counting? Expose the utter violence of environmental racism and work to root it out in Philadelphia.

Since 2015, the organization has been working to promote economic, racial and environmental justice in Philly. They count the shutdown of Philadelphia Energy Solutions — the largest and oldest oil refinery on the East Coast — as a major victory. The group says the refinery, when it was in operation, was responsible for more than half of the toxic emissions that Philadelphians breathed before an explosion took the company down in June of 2019.

Shawmar Pitts, a strategy organizer with Philly Thrive, delivered an engaging keynote about the link between community violence and the environment last week at the annual ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit in Philadelphia. Pitts was one of a diverse lineup of speakers who anchored the annual event, hosted by URL Media partner WURD Radio. From the anti-Blackness that drives exploitation of BIPOC communities to ruminations on the meaning of environmental freedom, the speakers took on big issues while remaining optimistic about what’s possible for the future. Here are my top takeaways from the day’s conversations.

1. Just because it starts local doesn’t mean it will stay local.

Black and Brown communities are so often the canaries in the coal mine. We might get hit first and hardest, but the ravages of everything from pollution to violence, so often a result of divestment, neglect, and racist policymaking, don’t stay confined to our communities for long.

It’s one of the things environmental racism has in common with community violence, Pitts argued. “The origin of the violence is people coming in with greed and taking all of the resources and leaving your community with none,” he said. “That’s not just going to stay local within your community,” he warned — just as pollution will manage to find its way downstream and toxic chemicals in the air will make their way upwind.

2. Racism is at the root.

The next panel brought together Maurice Sampson of Clean Water Action, Vernice Miller-Travis of the Metropolitan Group, and Dr. Adrienne L. Hollis of the National Wildlife Federation to discuss the effects of the climate crisis and why BIPOC communities experience the brunt of those impacts.

“[Racism is] the beginning of everything,” Hollis said. “That’s why there’s no infrastructure. That’s why money isn’t put into our communities. That’s why people don’t have water and food and good jobs — because of racism and redlining and all of those issues. And that’s why we’re speaking up today and in this year. This time is our time to be present and to make sure our voices are heard.”

3. Freedom can only happen when our needs are met.

Panelists Tommy Joshua Caison of North Philly Peace Park, Christa Barfield of FarmerJawn, and John Solomon of Endangered Kind closed out the program with a conversation about the future of environmental justice.

“I think a lot about these words — ‘environmental freedom’ — and what that really means. And if we are free to be comfortable in our environments, that means that all of our needs are actually being met by the environment,” said Barfield. “And from one to another, us having that relationship is super important, and that’s the only way — a village mentality. It really just goes back to becoming environmentally free as a people, but also as a city.”

All three conversations were eye-opening and dug deep into how the environment impacts our ability to live, breathe, and thrive. I hope you’ll give them a listen.—Alicia Ramirez

Uplift. Respect. Love.

 Turn Your Work Enemies Into Allies 
Sponsored by McKinsey & Company

Whether you’re being interrupted in meetings or challenged at every turn, there are tactics for getting value out of difficult work relationships. Check out this interview with Amy Gallo to learn how to deal with tough personalities.

 Uplifting our Communities 

FBI Releases List Of 192 Missing Indigenous Persons In New Mexico, Navajo Nation: Last week, the Albuquerque FBI Division released an updated list of confirmed missing Indigenous people in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. The monthly update saw 18 names removed and 27 added, bringing the total to 192. Native News Online has the story here.

How Much Damage Did The Racist LA City Council Recording Do?: The city of Los Angeles continues to reel from the fallout of a leaked recording that captured three council members and the now former president of the LA Federation of Labor making racist and other disparaging remarks. But it’s still too early to tell whether this conversation will have long-term impacts on coalition building between different racial groups. Read more in this op-ed from Black Voice News.

How We Fight Gerrymandering In The South: There's a lot of talk about gerrymandering and rigged maps, especially in the South, but few people seem to understand what the terms actually mean. In the second installment of the “As The South Votes” series, Scalawag takes an in-depth look at gerrymandering and redistricting — and the impact on the concept of "one person, one vote." Listen, learn and read more here.

Covering, Questioning And Re-Imagining U.S. Government: The latest episode of Our Body Politic has another political remix of some of the show’s most enlightening political conversations to provide context ahead of the midterm elections. First up, host Farai Chideya speaks with Tara Setmayer, CNN political commentator and contributor to ABC News, about why she chose to break her loyalty to the Republican party. Chideya then speaks to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about the fight for D.C. Statehood and Yamiche Alcindor, moderator of Washington Week on PBS and a Washington correspondent for NBC News, on lessons from covering the Trump era. Listen to the full episode here.


Round stickers with the words I voted on white background

Early Voting Sites Open Across Detroit: With the midterm election three weeks away, many Michigan voters have already cast their ballots. But for those still considering their options, yet want to vote before election day, there’s time left. Outlier Media has all the details here for DetroitersLearn more about early voting where you live with’s handy guide.

Discrimination On Their Own Soil: Mexicans seeking a Covid-19 vaccine must first show their Unique Population Registry Code (CURP in Spanish) — an individual alphanumeric code assigned to each Mexican citizen recorded in the Civil Registry with a birth certificate. But for many Mexicans born in the country without proof, specifically children and adolescents, having to show this number is a lost cause, leaving them vulnerable to a virus that is known to have long-term effects on their health. palabra. has the full story here.

City Of Philadelphia Apologizes For Holmesburg Prison Experiments: Between 1951 and 1974, people imprisoned at Holmesburg Prison were subject to several scientific experiments. The prison, operated by the city of Philadelphia, eventually closed and was decommissioned in 1995. WURD Radio spoke with Priscilla Morris, restorative justice advocate at LaSalle University, Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, the senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, and defense attorney Michael Coard following the city’s public apology for the experiments. Listen to the interviews here.

On Dessalines Day, As Protests Continue In Haiti, UN Debates Sending Foreign Force: On the day commemorating Jean-Jacques Dessalines — one of Haiti’s Heroes of Independence — the United Nations began considering sending an international armed force to Haiti as hundreds took to the streets of the capital to commemorate the 216th anniversary. The Haitian Times has the full story here.


 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture

Cala Farm Preserves Tradition By Growing Flowers That Honor The Dead: As you enter the greenhouse at Cala Farm, the scent of marigolds becomes palpable. A handful of the 1,000 potted plants already have flowers. But by mid-October, the 24-inch-tall plants will be in full bloom, sprouting flowers in orange, white, yellow, and even a combined red and orange blossom. Marigolds are the traditional flowers associated with the Mexican tradition Día de los Muertos. These particular plants will adorn altars in homes, businesses, and even at the state capital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sahan Journal, in partnership with MPR News, has the full story here.

Dera Restaurant Draws Crowds For Authentic Pakistani Cuisine And Famous Naan: In Punjab, the word dera translates to “a sitting place,” where people can relax and enjoy other people’s company. Dera Restaurant, located in Jackson Heights, Queens, has been a neighborhood staple since 1971, when it was known by its original name, Shaheen. The restaurant serves traditional Pakistani food in addition to Indian, Bangladeshi and Nepali dishes. Muhammad Saif Ullah Nagra, Dera’s current owner, took over the restaurant’s lease in 2004 — something he never imagined he would do after immigrating to the U.S. in 1991. Epicenter-NYC has the full story here.

 Centering Love 

New Yorkers Help Migrants Fleeing From Chaotic NYC Shelter System: In interviews held across New York City, migrants tell Documented about the violence and chaos they saw in the facilities that they have fled. Some said they have been shuffled through as many as four shelters in a month. Others said they witnessed fist fights and drug use inside city-run shelters and tried to stay quiet to avoid confrontation. Now, a number of New Yorkers are stepping up to ensure migrants not only live in a safe shelter but have food and sustainable long-term plans. Read the full story here.

 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

Johnny Bright, The First Black Person To Be Considered for A Heisman: Johnny Bright's story reflects life for many Black people who have been trailblazers in American society. As a linebacker with the Canadian Football League at Drake University, Bright became the first Black player to be considered for the Heisman Trophy. During this very week back in 1951, Bright also became the first Black player to play at Oklahoma A&M's stadium. But his opposing team undermined the historic event. PushBlack, the newest partner of the URL Media network, sheds light on what happened here

 The URLs on URL 

Scalawag Is Hiring An Interim Audience Manager

URL Media partner Scalawag is looking for an interim audience manager who will be responsible for managing paid and organic social media marketing, develop email appeals, and collaboratively manage their newsletter products in support of growing new audiences and deepening relationships with existing audiences. Read more and apply here, and subscribe to our career newsletter for more great job opportunities.

What we’re following: The highly anticipated application for student loan forgiveness has been released. Individuals who earned less than $125,000 in either 2020 or 2021, and married couples or heads of households who made less than $250,000 annually in those years will see up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt forgiven. The cap goes up to $20,000 if borrowers received aid from the Federal Pell Grant program. Sahan Journal has all the details here.

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, media entrepreneur for almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and is currently a JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., which publishes Epicenter-NYC, The Unmuted and The Escape Home, has worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

 Our Partners 

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