Where do Black People fit into the conversation around energy?

Many environmental issues like air pollution, water quality and waste management affect people of color disproportionately, especially people of color living in income areas. That, coupled with the lack of diversity in the energy industry, could lead someone to wonder if and how Black people were involved in the energy conservation. Turns out, a Black voice exist in different ways throughout the spectrum of the energy industry.

Grassroots Organizations

There are grassroots organizations that represent the people in these marginalized groups. Many of the people in these groups are people of color. For example, the Sierra Club is an environmental advocacy organization that has chapters around the country that assist with environmental issues specific to their area. The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club has been instrumental in addressing the policymakers during the Flint Water Crisis. They release statements about what they have done in the communities to keep the community informed.

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Industry Representation

On the other side of the spectrum, there is a national organization for Black professionals in the energy industry. The American Association of Blacks In Energy was founded by Clarke A. Watson in 1977.  Watson owned an energy-consulting firm, Walton Associates. After the Department of Energy Organization Act was passed in 1977 a group of Black professionals that worked in the industry were afraid that the the leadership in the department did not reflect the populations and could quickly become an elitist group in the near future. So he created AABE so that the minority groups would always have representation. Currently, AABE hold a national conference in May that bring all of their members together for seminars and networking opportunities. They also offer scholarship opportunities for up and coming professionals and other resources. Like every other industry, AABE is trying to address the role that technology will play in the future of their field. In January AABE is holding a Hackathon to explore that interaction.  

There is representation in the energy industry both from the inside and the outside. Grassroot organizations rally around the marginalized communities that are most often feel the brunt of environmental policies. There are also national organizations that represent and advocate for Black professionals that work in the industry.  


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