Commentary: Honoring the Resilience of Survivors of Disaster

Hip hop artist Gallo’s song “Ima Push” is about bouncing back from disaster.

It has been heartbreaking to watch the news lately. Across Oklahoma, families are still struggling to pull their lives back together after tornadoes ripped through their towns. Dozens of others are coping with the greatest loss of all — their loved ones. Meanwhile, some folks on the Atlantic coast are continuing to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Others in California and Colorado are facing the aftermath of out-of-control wildfires. No one should have to face that kind of devastation. We’ve just seen too many disasters.

In honor of these brave survivors, Green For All is proud to release a new music video, “Ima Push,” by hip-hop artist Gallo, the winner of our 2013 Dream Reborn Song Competition. The song is about finding a way to go on when you think you’ve got nothing left to give.

It’s not just survivors of the storms that are digging deep to keep putting one foot in front of the other. All across America — and especially in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods — people are feeling squeezed by shrinking paychecks, scarce jobs and debilitating health problems. And as some of our leaders continue to pretend that climate change isn’t even happening, those of us fighting for clean air and water are digging deep, too. For instance, President Obama recently released his climate action plan that includes real and effective solutions that will help fight climate change.  But it’s up to us to make sure those on the frontlines feel the effects of positive change.

We have to keep fighting, because it’s the only way forward. Protecting our communities has never been more urgent. That means fighting pollution — by standing up to the fossil fuel industries. It also means making our neighborhoods more resilient by investing in infrastructure that will minimize the damage of floods, hurricanes, drought and disasters. And it means creating economic resilience, too.

We can transform our neighborhoods into places with clean air and water and abundant jobs. We can make sure they bounce back quickly from storms, unemployment and economic distress. It won’t be easy, but we can do it. We already are — clean energy is creating three times as many jobs per dollar invested as fossil fuels. And people of color are leading the way, building thriving green businesses that benefit people and the planet. 

At Green For All, we believe this vision is the natural progression of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. had for America. That’s why it’s so fitting that the winner of this year’s Dream Reborn Song Competition is all about resilience — Gallo’s song “Ima Push” is all about surviving, bouncing back and doing better. 

As a father working to support a family, Gallo knows first hand what it means to dig deep.  And as someone who struggles with asthma, he knows why clean air is important and why standing up to big polluters matters.

I’m inspired by Gallo and all of the other hardworking folks who are giving everything they’ve got to create a better world. So I’m going to push harder than ever to make sure that my daughter — and all of our kids and grandkids — live in communities that are healthier, more just and more resilient. Ima push.  

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is CEO of Green For All, a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy. 
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Green For All)

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