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The goal of the panel is to make sure that you all, as students, have the opportunity, first and foremost, to understand how lawyers are using their degrees on environmental justice issues. So the panelists are going to focus on their roles within their organizations and the efforts they are making to overcome the barriers to achieving zero emissions in California for environmental justice communities. What could be more fun?
Our panel is called What We’re Up Against. We do not want to leave folks with the impression that what we have before us is a long list of challenges that we all face. Although that is the case in many instances, and today it is very obvious what the challenges before us are, and we can often feel like we are in times of crisis. Instead I really want you all to understand the opportunities that arise in some of these challenge areas and what the work is that we can do to embrace those opportunities. We mentioned the Green New Deal. I think in this time of climate crisis there is an opportunity to go back and hopefully do our best to address some of the racial, social, and economic inequities that have long persisted in this country.
In many instances, we have some extremely intelligent scientists, attorneys, engineers—a whole bunch of folks. I have been really blessed to be surrounded by and work with those individuals. Sometimes we forget about the intelligence, the innovation, the ability for communities to not only engage in a process, but to lead a process. Sometimes we also forget about how important culture is in helping us to make change happen. You are seeing, every time you turn on the television, culture in motion. Our parents saw a culture making change in the environment, civil rights, and a number of other things. It is important that we utilize culture to begin our conversation, but then make sure that we anchor it in the expertise and the innovation. As I said, that exists inside of communities.
My name is Candice Youngblood, and I am a third-year student here at Berkeley Law. More importantly, I am a member of Students for Economic and Environmental Justice, also known as SEEJ. On behalf of SEEJ, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to our 2019 Symposium, “Ground-Truthing Injustice.” SEEJ was founded in 2009 to create a permanent home for environmental justice studies and advocacy at Berkeley Law. SEEJ is committed to advancing justice for low-income communities and communities of color. We accomplish this mission by engaging with a variety of local, national, and international environmental justice issues through an annual symposium, clinics, and workshops. SEEJ is also helping develop a broader environmental justice curriculum at the law school.