Isaias Hernandez is the founder of the instagram page Queer Brown Vegan, and co-creator of Alluvia Magazine, a “publication highlighting the intersections of decolonized environmentalism through media”. Through his Instagram,
His environmental narrative was influenced by his experience of growing up in a low income community in California, which was predominantly black and brown. Lack of access to clean air and drinking water and green spaces made him realize later (in college) that his community was a victim of environmental racism. Isiais came to this realization only because he gained access to information that helped him to identify the problem and its definition.
While he gained a lot of knowledge attending University of California, Berkeley, he found that language used in academia was often inaccessible and defeatist and as a result tended to be exclusionary. The same pattern continued in the real world when he became involved in various environmental initiatives.
To break the barriers often created in the environmental community, Isaias chose to focus on educating his followers about complex environmental terminologies using simple descriptions and delivery methods. The goal being to get more people from various backgrounds interested and involved in environmentalism.
Academic language often creates distance between those who went to college and those who did not. Frequently, those who obtained a higher education become familiar with words and phrases, of which those who enter straight into the workforce may not be exposed to, cultivating a type of language barrier between the two groups of people.
This often results in a smaller portion of the population having the necessary knowledge to make informed, environmentally friendly choices, further perpetuating the idea that less educated communities, often of color, care less about environmentalism. Isaias creates colorful, informative, and concise content with an effort to bridge this gap and allow more accessibility to the knowledge of the many facets of environmentalism.
Making Space for Queer People of Color
In addition to focusing on environmental education, Isaias was keen on increasing representation of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color). As a queer Mexican he realized that there was often a lack of diversity and inclusion in his college and mainstream environmental organizations, which are predominantly white and heterosexual. Further, there was a lack of attenton being given to the plight of LGBTQ+ communities, especially low-income, queer trans people of color, who are often at the frontlines of environmental injustices.
In the same vein, he wanted to raise awareness of the contributions that BIPOC make to the environmental movement. Isaias has known BIPOC communities have also been at the frontlines of environmental justice for many years but have been silenced or ignored by mainstream media and environmentalists. At the end of the day Isaias wants to be able to bring an intersectional lens to climate change mitigation and do so with humility.
A lot of information is discussed in this conversation, from environmental racism and exclusion, to the LGBTQ+ influence in his life, to hydrodams, to the importance of direct action, and much more. Isaias allows us a glimpse into his life and gives us a call to action in this week's episode of Breaking Green Ceilings.
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