27 Jun 2020 Read the Letter the NY Times Refused to Print!
The New York Times reported a dubious claim that climate change has a disparate effect on black American mothers. But it was criticism of this shoddy journalism that the so-called “newspaper of record” decided wasn’t fit to print.
Project 21 member Donna Jackson had taken exception, saying that the situation chronicled in the Times article is exactly the opposite. She noted that it is climate change policies and the sometimes crippling regulations associated with them that are dangerous to black households. These dangers come from economic perils, lessened quality of life and energy poverty.
Letters to the editor should be a way for other viewpoints to be offered, or as a mea culpa on the part of editors for having gone too far. But, with the paper silent on her submission for so long, it’s obvious the Times has no intention of moderating itself or letting Donna’s voice be heard.
So we are printing her letter here.
The Times article claimed that minorities in general, and black mothers in particular, suffer a “disproportionate share” of harm from heat and air pollution. Playing on the current argument of systemic abuses plaguing the black community, reporter Christopher Flavelle complained that the “vulnerability of black mothers to heat and air pollution was likely the result of several systemic problems.”
If things such as heat and pollution are factors for American blacks, Donna wondered how black communities in Africa ever survived.
To follow is the letter Donna sent – the letter the Times refused to print:
“Climate Change Tied to Pregnancy Risk, Affecting Black Mothers Most” uncritically cited studies making a strained effort to turn climate change into a black issue. A little more journalistic curiosity is in order. How, for example, could a rather slight climate change-induced increase in temperatures lead to such severe negative outcomes in pregnant women when we see no such disparate impacts when comparing hotter states like Florida and Arizona to cooler ones like Michigan and Illinois where the natural temperature differences are far greater? And how plausible is it that black women are disproportionately sensitive to heat increases as we are descendants from the world’s hottest continent — Africa?
The article does stumble into the truth that many black households struggle to afford the electricity needed to run air conditioning. The Energy Information Administration and others report that up to half of black households struggle to pay their energy bills. In some cases, they must choose between energy and other necessities like food and medicine.
But this is why the article has it exactly backwards – it is not climate change, but climate change policies that boost energy prices that pose the disproportionate threat to black families.
In its Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America, Project 21 recommended that the government use “minority impact assessments” to determine if major new regulations have a disproportionate effect on black opportunity and quality of life. Project 21 members have also spoken out against policies that can lead to energy poverty.
Earlier this year, Project 21 and the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project challenged the radical racial premises of the New York Times‘s “1619 Project.” In answer to a question posed during the company’s annual shareholder meeting, publisher A.G. Sulzsberger essentially conceded that the systemic racist premises of the series were not factually sound.