NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The Latin American and Latino/a/x Studies Program at Illinois State University is continuing its celebration of Latinx Heritage.
On Tuesday the program hosted anthropologist Dr. Hilda Lloréns from the University of Rhode Island. Lloréns delivered the keynote address focusing on Afro-Puerto Ricans and environmental justice.
Lloréns’ lecture “Ecological Knowledge and Sustainable Practices in Afro-Puerto Rico” stems from her book Making Livable Worlds: Afro-Puerto Rican Women Building Environmental Justice. She said the communities on the front lines when it comes to climate change tend to be in Puerto Rico.
“They are marginalized communities that live on the coast. Often times when a hurricane hits it hits on the coast first. Those are also frontline communities dealing with environmental pollution and contamination, they are dealing with sea level rise,” Lloréns said. “So, they are frontline communities that are working to protect their communities and themselves from the impacts of hurricanes, sea level rise and climate change in general.”
Lloréns’ book focuses on the southeastern area of Puerto Rico. She said it’s known as a sacrifice zone.
“It’s usually an environmental justice community in which community members are beseeched by polluting industries. In this case, the polluting industries in this community are energy-producing complexes,” she said.
The associate professor said as climate change occurs, it’s important to talk about environmental justice and environmental racism. She said she hopes students know they have a role in enacting change in the face of climate change.
“This generation is going to have to deal with all of the decisions that have been made in the past. All of the kind of negative decisions that were made that are now affecting our world and our climate,” Lloréns said. “They have a voice, they also can speak up and come up with sustainable solutions to address the problem of climate change.”