As Miami gears up to host the first official debate of the Democratic primaries, contenders will look to test their marquee messaging and engage voters in conversation on America’s most pressing issues.
But there is one subject that regularly gets glossed over this election season: climate change.
Not a single soul has been untouched by the catastrophic floods, heat waves and other extreme weather events caused by climate change. Today, more than 71 percent of Black families across the country live in counties that are consistently in violation of federal standards for air pollution. Not only does this air pollution trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses in our children, but it leads to more heart attacks, emergency room visits, and higher death rates for our elders. Our babies are the ones hurt the most: Black children, suffer from asthma at almost twice the rate of white children and are four times as likely to die from it.
This national travesty is playing out right here in Florida. Based on rankings recently released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Florida has nine cities that are listed in the top 100 for asthma prevalence, asthma-related emergency department visits and asthma-related mortality rates.
The faces behind the rankings paint an even darker picture, quite literally. The number of Black and Brown families who live in or near heavy traffic areas, brownfields, landfills and industrial facilities are a direct reflection of the number of high instances reported.
Given the seriousness of this matter, we expect our leaders to respond by safeguarding the health of our children. But unfortunately, that is not the case for the Trump administration. The Environmental Protection Agency is making matters worse by turning the clock back on progress made in clean energy and Obama-era regulations.
We will not assume that a new face will correct the abandonment of environmental protections. We want to see well-thought-out plans. We want to hear timelines for action.
That is why we are taking a stand and calling on all mothers to do what mothers do: demand better of the Democratic party and better from the candidates. Black women must press Democratic hopefuls to prioritize climate change. It is for the sake of our future and our children that we make this the premiere subject for the administration entering the next defining decade of our time.
Moms Clean Air Force is fighting to help address and redress the disproportionate burden of pollution in our community, but we cannot do it alone. It takes political leaders who will protect us and not polluters. We must hold the Trump administration accountable and safeguard the promise of clean air for our children. We must demand that those seeking to replace Trump, promise to do better.
Our country has a moral obligation to protect public health and maintain environmental quality for everyone – no matter their zip code. The time for action is now. We look forward to hearing solutions from presidential hopefuls in Miami.