Justice on Earth Book Review

Justice on Earth is an incredible book that has me rethinking my methods of activism and is teaching me to look deeper into the injustices I am fighting for. This book acknowledges the intersections of race, class, and the environment and how we as Unitarian Universalists or people of faith in general have a duty to speak up about these issues and act. It asks us to dive deeper into a greater and wider sense of shared humanity. We all live on one Earth and we must treat it and respect it as such, which is why it’s important to unlearn our white and anthropocentric mindsets when engaging in activism.

It is easy to hyper focus on one issue and fail to see how everything is interconnected. In order to tackle environmental injustices we must address the racial and social issues that created them and vice versa. We must ask ourselves, for example, why are high minority communities more often affected by fracking and factory pollution than white communities in the United States? Once we recognize these issues we need to figure out how our faith communities can help create justice. Individual activism is great but when communities unite and work together, that’s when real change happens. At the end of each chapter the book includes resources and important questions for further thought. These resources most often are external websites and books to go above and beyond to find out how your faith community can work together. One of my favorite websites that it features is: The Community Tool Box for Multicultural Collaboration which highlights the importance of multicultural collaboration amongst faith communities in order to create inclusivity and strength.

Justice on Earth states that we must listen to and take guidance from front-line communities. Even coming from the heart, our well-intentioned actions could possibly impact the situation negatively or unintentionally silence the voices of the people who are being directly impacted.  Self-education is key in order to best support the justice movement. The theme of ecotheology is also discussed to a great extent in this book. Something that really stuck with me was the reminder that we are always Unitarian Universalists, not just on Sundays while inside our congregations. Our faith extends to the Earth and all of its human and non-human inhabitants, and in all of our actions.  At my local UU congregation, during religious education classes, instructors ask their youth, “How were you a UU this week?” It sparks conversations about how they carry their faith in their day to day lives outside of church. Having read Justice on Earth and learning about faith-based justice work, I now realize how important that sentiment is. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the intersection of race, class and the environment as well as faith-based activism. 

Citation:
           Mishra-Marzetti, Manish, and Jennifer Nordstrom, editors. Justice on Earth: People of Faith  Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment. Skinner House Books, 2018.

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Elizabeth Fernandez
Elizabeth Fernandez is a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Biology. Elizabeth is a New York native and she is passionate about animal rights and climate issues. She is excited to start her internship at UUMFE to gain a better understanding of environmental justice and learn new methods of activism.