by Leslye Joy Allen
Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
I am sure there is someone who saw the title of this blog and instantly thought of the late Marvin Gaye’s environmental anthem from 1971, “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Well, this is not exactly about Marvin Gaye. Yet, music can trigger an entire series of memories. Music is as much a cultural and historical marker of the times in which we live and have lived through as anything else. However, I arrived at this title and this blog via a beautiful and talented woman named Freda Payne. If you recognize that name, then you probably remember her anti-Vietnam era song “Bring the Boys Home.” Freda sang “Bring the Boys Home” with a sense of urgency and longing that none of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s will ever forget. It is ironic, but no accident that Freda’s anti-war anthem and Marvin Gaye’s song bemoaning our poisoning of the environment were released in the same year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, you can do a quick Google or YouTube search and find all the information, beautiful music and pointed messages you need. Yet, this blog is not exactly about music.
Not long ago, I received a sweet and thoughtful message from Freda Payne, along with a request from her to tell folks about her son Gregory who is a partner with Clean Green Nation. Before I could even visit the website, I heard Freda’s song in my head, then I heard Marvin Gaye. These were songs from my childhood and adolescence. As the music played in my head, I looked up Clean Green Nation on the Internet. It specializes in environmentally sound and clean energy for your home, your business, and even your farm. I smiled as I clicked on one section of the website after another because one of the first things that struck me about the website was the same thing that struck me about Freda’s request.—Her request, like the website itself, was filled with a deep understanding about this nation’s need to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, and the need to reduce greenhouse gases so that everyone can breathe cleaner air. She is also a proud mother. Her son Gregory is one of a growing number of young Black Americans committed to this admirable and much needed goal.
I visited what has to be one of the very best websites and businesses for selling, installing, promoting, and explaining clean energy. The best part about what Gregory and Clean Green Nation are doing is that there is some item or service available there for every budget. Solar panels and wind turbines are available for homes and businesses. For under $20.00, you can purchase a variable flow showerhead that saves water; another nifty gadget that helps you to time and shorten your showers is available for $2.99. Importantly, Clean Green Nation has one of the best Learning Centers that I have ever seen. In clear language, visitors to the site find out exactly how solar and wind energy work. They learn about radiant barriers that keep heat out of a house in the summer and hold more heat in during the winter. A range of services and products are offered that will simultaneously save the customer money and help clean up the environment at the same time—I cannot stress the importance of these factors when it comes to marketing anything affiliated with that word “environment” to Black and other communities of color. There was a time when I would go to rallies and lectures about the environment and I could count the number of Black folks (including myself) in attendance on one hand.
The first time I told someone I was an environmentalist was over fifteen years ago. The man looked at me strangely, as I stood there with my cloth shopping bags. I went into one of my quick talks about how we should use “these bags” instead of the petroleum based plastic bags many stores continue to use. Once, I even got a manager at a local grocery store to start recycling these same petroleum based bags. However, for a long time there seemed to be a kind of disconnect about the whole concept of cleaning up the environment in many Black communities; and that is a shame because WE Black folks, and other peoples of color, are usually the first to suffer from environmental toxicity. It is no accident that toxic waste dumps are often located near or in poor communities, particularly poor Black communities. Yet, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, WE all bear responsibility and have the capacity to contribute to the fight to clean up the environment. I say this so that those folks who read this, who happen to be White or members of some other ethnic group, do not feel left out. My message in this blog, however, is deliberately directed at Black people because information about the environment has not always reached or been directed toward Black communities. This is where Clean Green Nation comes in.
While Gregory services the West Coast and West Hollywood specifically, anyone can order products and services from his website. Even more important, anyone can learn more about how to lower utility bills and help the environment! It is just that simple. I must add something important here: Gregory was not born when his mother sang that song that showed the human and personal costs to us as we lost one young man after another in the Vietnam War. The song was so potent that U. S. Armed Forces Radio banned it from its airwaves. Gregory was not born when Marvin Gaye sang a song with lyrics filled with sadness over the way we all had poisoned our natural environment. The tragedy is that both of these songs are still relevant some forty plus years later because the problems we were dealing with in 1971 are still with us today. I remember it well. Future generations do not so much need new songs as they need new songs with different themes. Now when I was a kid, James Brown taught us to chant, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Today I ask you to support a committed young man who drives a hybrid in a town that often prides itself on glamour; a young man trying to make an honest living and help clean up the planet at the same time. Say it with me now, “Let’s Be Black, Clean and Green.”
Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
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