Leah Thomas

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Leah Thomas, also known as Green Girl Leah, is an American environmental activist active on Instagram whose work focuses on the application of intersectionality to environmental justice.


  • Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter” “Social justice cannot wait,” the caption stated. “It is not an optional ‘add-on’ to environmentalism.” “It is unfair to opt in and out of caring about racial injustices when many of us cannot.
    • Instagram, May 28, 2020

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet (2022)

  • We should care about the protection of people as much as we care about the protection of our planet-to me, these fights are the same. As a society, we often forget that humans are a part of our global ecosystem and that we don't exist separately from nature; we coexist with it each and every day.
  • Unfortunately, as with other animals, some humans are endangered and facing a multitude of social and environmental injustices that impact their ability to not only survive but also thrive in liberation and joy. Why, then, are conservation efforts not extended to the protection of endangered humans and their human rights? This is a question I've struggled with as a Black environmentalist for years, because in my environmental practice, caring for the earth means caring for its people.
  • If we combine social justice efforts with environmental awareness efforts, we will harness enough power, representation, and momentum to have a shot at protecting our planet and creating equity at the same time.
  • The lack of representation of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, low-income, LGBTQ+, disabled, and other marginalized voices has led to an ineffective form of mainstream environmentalism that doesn't truly stand for the liberation of all people and the planet.
  • it's evident that social justice and environmentalism are deeply intertwined and that addressing this interconnection is crucial for attaining justice for both people and planet.
  • Social injustice and environmental injustice are fueled by the same flame: the undervaluing, commodification, and exploitation of all forms of life and natural resources, from the smallest blade of grass to those living in poverty and oppressed people worldwide. It's a point that many ecofeminists, environmental justice scholars and leaders, Indigenous rights and land sovereignty advocates, and climate politicians have argued for decades, but it hasn't been embedded deeply enough in modern environmental education.
  • I didn't want to be an "environmentalist" if that meant I had to choose between racial progress and environmental progress.
  • Those least responsible for the climate crisis are bearing the brunt of it.
  • It is time to dismantle and reflect on what environmentalism means and reclaim the term so that it is inclusive of historically excluded and underrepresented people.
  • Our identities flow through our politics, our advocacy, what we care about-whether we realize it or not.
  • it's truly my biggest hope that one day in the future we won't need to preface "environmentalism" with the word "intersectional"; we won't need to create separate safe spaces and curriculums that seek to be inclusive. One day I hope that when people think of an environmentalist, they'll automatically envision a person who cares very deeply about both people and planet.
  • The future can and will be intersectional.
  • Hazel M. Johnson's work helped lay the groundwork for climate justice around the world, as well as for an intersectional approach to environmentalism. It's important to also note that she was met with sexism, racism, and classism throughout her career, and has been omitted from many environmental textbooks. As intersectional environmentalists, we are now presented with the opportunity to recreate what environmental education should look like, and we can work together to honor stories like Johnson's to ensure that her legacy, and those of other BIPOC environmentalists, lives on...Another pivotal voice in environmental justice history is its "father," as he's often dubbed, Dr. Robert Bullard.
  • What is the impact of having large-scale environmental movements that mostly exclude the voices of the underrepresented and people of color?
  • A mentor of mine once said, "Even the revolution needs accountants." This made me laugh, but it's true! We can each contribute our skills in some way.
  • Together, we can transform the future of environmentalism and, with collective action, spread our message across the globe and change enough hearts and minds to positively alter the future.

Interview (2021)

  • Environmentalism was largely a white, middle- and upper-class movement that wasn’t super intersectional. Then after that, in the 80s, we see an emergence of a primarily BIPOC-led environmental justice movement that is trying to address some of the inequity in environmental policy that was really facing Black and brown communities. I think having that context would be really important because the way that it was taught to me was like, ‘there was this environmental movement and it just happened,’ but no kind of nod to the civil rights movement.
  • I would say learning is the first step and, honestly, the most fun step. Learning about the history of the environmental justice movement and learning about those cool heroes who deserve to have their place in environmental history. It’s also really important for folks to figure out and get involved with what’s going on in their local communities. You might be surprised, if say, thirty minutes down the highway the air pollution is completely different. Overall, people should look at their local communities, educate themselves, and really have fun with it.
    • "What advice would you give to the next generation of activists who want to get involved in the intersectional climate movement? Where can they start?"

Interview with W Magazine (2020)

  • I had to leave my community in order to have access to the right education, nature, green spaces, clean air. And I think that instilled something in me early on.
  • We know it’s going to take all of us and not just a select few.

Interview with Besides

  • I was so frustrated during this second wave of the Black Lives Matter movement [in the Spring of 2020] because the environmental community was largely silent. So I posted the Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter graphic, along with my definition of intersectional environmentalism, and also an intersectional environmentalist pledge and I put it out there.
  • If you look at the 1960s and 1970s, there was the civil rights movement, and then there was the environmental movement right after, which was largely white-led. They appropriated the same tactics that they learned from civil rights protestors. And then, of course, we have the first Earth Day, which is super amazing, but if you look at pictures, you see white people wearing headdresses. And now we’re at a different point in history where we have in 2019 and early 2020, the biggest climate marches, and then right after that, side by side, we have another civil rights movement happening at the same time.
  • It’s important for people to realize that if they want to use their privilege in the right way, amplify the voices of the people who have historically been unheard.
  • I think when a lot of people learn about environmental racism, they think, “How can I save these people?” But they don’t think about “What have I been ignoring to allow this to happen?”
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re living in a city, you’re still in nature. A lot of white environmentalists still view nature as something that they go to, instead of thinking, nature is all around me. And that means that nature is also all around these different communities of colour, even if they’re living in a city.

Interview with Seedlip

  • I got the term “Intersectional” from Intersectional Feminism*, which is a type of feminism that I identify with. I feel like intersectional feminism shouldn’t have to exist, nor intersectional environmentalism, but because some people in both circles don’t factor in how race and culture can play a significant role in how people are treated or interact with the environment, it needs to be there. For example, people of colour are more likely to live next to toxic waste sites or in areas with higher levels of water and air pollution. I’ve spent the past 6 years in Environmental circles and have been frustrated at times by the lack of acknowledgement of its importance, so I felt like I needed to give words to the type of environmentalism that I practice and would hope all environmentalists adopt.
  • I studied Environmental Science and would much rather focus on urgently addressing the climate crisis, but I cannot when I’m fearful for my life and that of those who look like me. I would much rather dedicate my life to fighting against extractive industries than fight for my right to exist in this world. I wish that was just understood as an inherent principle in society.
  • For someone who is just getting started, they can start with educating themselves and reading literature about environmental justice and allyship.
  • Oprah 100%, I’ve always looked up to her and adore her so much.
    • "If you could share a cocktail and conversation with anyone, what would it be and with whom?"
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