Member Spotlight: JV Valladolid, Environmental Justice Organizer, Ironbound Community Corporation

“When we talk about environmental injustice, we are talking about our neighborhood being seen and used as a dumping ground for corporations. We are talking about the land being sacrificed and people being displaced. We are talking about our neighborhood being targeted by companies because they want to build on our community.”

-JV Valladolid, Environmental Justice Organizer, Ironbound Community Corporation

 

An introduction to JV…

"My name is JV, and my pronouns are JV. I am an Environmental Justice Organizer with the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) based in Newark, New Jersey, unceded Lenape Land. But that’s not really who I am. I self-describe as a Newark-native and child of immigrants. I see my current job as an extension of my previous work in education focused on Reproductive Justice. I started organizing with the Masakhane Center which is a youth-driven organization providing community-based sexuality education in and around Newark. I became an educator with the Masakhane Center, where I helped orientate youth about reproductive justice."

An introduction to the Environmental Justice Department at ICC…

"Under our Environmental Justice department, our team works to reconnect people to the earth, and bring attention to the pollution in the neighborhood. Here at ICC, we have an urban garden called Down Bottom Farms. We have youth and adult programs, volunteer opportunities, and community events that operate out of Down Bottom Farms. Our team also works to bring attention to the terrible air quality in Ironbound caused by three existing toxic gas power plants, congested diesel truck traffic, an incinerator, and one superfund site (a superfund site is an abandoned toxic waste site that requires a cleanup response due to hazardous materials and conditions). More than 50% of what is burned in at the garbage incinerator comes from outside of the Ironbound. The asthma rate in Ironbound is three times higher than anywhere else in the state of New Jersey. We know that the environmental and health hazards in our community are a consequence of the emissions from the corporations and factories in the neighborhood. When I think about all the connections between environmental justice, health, political decision-making - I realize that each factor impacts the other.

Our current effort is to increase public awareness of the fourth power plant trying to make its way into our community (Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission). We are preparing community members to provide public testimony. The struggle is strategic on the part of our opposition, where they are probably thinking that with enough time, people will forget and the community will stop showing up."

JV on the environmental justice fight in Newark, New Jersey…

"Newark isn’t unique in the fight for environmental justice. Newark is an environmental justice community, meaning that the people who grow up here have no choice but to be exposed to environmental hazards. Newark is similar to the other environmental justice communities across the country, which are low-income, predominantly residents of Color, and/or undocumented. Communities that look like Newark are likewise targeted by power plants, luxury housing, and highway construction, which consequently bulldoze people off the land. What makes Newark special in the movement, though, is that our community has been leading the fight for an environmental justice bill moving through the legislature, which is meant to protect overburdened communities in New Jersey from further pollution and harm."

JV’s thoughts on achieving policies in New Jersey that support immigrants…

"When we talk about environmental injustice, we are talking about our neighborhood being seen and used as a dumping ground for corporations. We are talking about the land being sacrificed and people being displaced. We are talking about our neighborhood being targeted by companies because they want to build on our community. I have been thinking about the recent Census, and how every Census year, pockets of our community go unaccounted for. The Census doesn’t reflect that our neighbors have been pushed out. Or that the area is filled with waste, so community members have been forced to move. The majority of our community is working class, undocumented, and people of Color. They are hardly ever counted, but face the most extreme injustice. There aren’t strong enough policies that exist in New Jersey that protect our communities from harm."

JV’s sentiments about Earth Day…

"Earth Day brings up a lot of memories and feelings for me. The first time I actually saw something blossom was in my adult life. I visited Soul Fire Farm and had the opportunity to see a pea blossom. I saw this beautiful flower, wondered what it was, and someone told me it was a pea. I became emotional, and still do just thinking about it. A lot of the places we live in don’t have green spaces, so there's not enough opportunities for us to build an intimate relationship with the Earth. Too often, programs focus on teaching people about the Earth, but I don’t think we need to be taught that exactly. Instead, I think we should be helping people reconnect with the Earth."

JV on the intersection between reproductive justice and environmental justice…

"The intersection between Reproductive Justice and Environmental Justice is often overlooked. Reproductive Justice to me is the right to live in a safe and sustainable community and have full autonomy over one’s body. We know that there are health issues that are happening to people’s bodies just because of where they live and the pollutants they are surrounded by. There isn’t enough validation given to this part of the work, despite the amount of research that exists on the impacts that environmental hazards have on people’s bodies. For example, high asthma rates in children, cancer as a result of toxins, and so much more. It’s also really important for me to highlight that whether we choose to parent or not, toxins from our environment live in our bodies and get passed down. Whether someone chooses to parent or not, there are reproductive challenges that arise, which range from fertility issues, gynecological issues to pregnancy outcomes. People who are Black and Brown, low-income and undocumented already face higher risks of reproductive challenges. 

Giddy Health recently published an article titled “Environmental Racism's Toll on Reproductive Health”, which details how the Ironbound community’s environmental concerns contribute to reproductive justice concerns in the neighborhood. The article also brings to lights’ ICC’s campaign against the fourth power plant (PVSC)."

JV’s inspiration…

"My mother inspires me deeply. My mother has a rare diagnosis and the way she’s had to navigate life has informed my work. Throughout my time as a Reproductive Justice educator, I recognized the lack of educational material for people with disabilities. Now in my organizing work, I try to always think of ways of making information and events accessible and relevant to all people."

Check out Ironbound Community Corporation and the rest of their services here!

New Year, New Team, New Session | Same Fight for Justice

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January Newsletter

Archived 2017 picture of NJAIJ rally against the Muslim Ban.

Friends, I'm writing with a personal message this month.
January marks one year since I joined NJAIJ and one year since we grew our team to include our Movement Building Coordinator, a role that has transformed how we empower immigrant communities all across the New Jersey. In my twelve months in coalition with you, I feel both grateful and galvanized.
In that year, New Jersey also
became the first state on the East Coast to ban ICE detention agreements. We became the 15th state to enact a status-neutral drivers' license program, and fought for a first-of-its-kind direct cash benefit program, the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, to provide relief for households excluded from federal stimulus. We made history together, and I'm humbled by and in awe of your fight.
It's January again and we are pleased to announce that we are growing our team again, too!
I am thrilled to be joined in this work by advocates who have an unwavering dedication to social, racial, and economic justice. Please join me in welcoming:

Michelle Ancil, she/her, Communications Coordinator. Laura Bustamante, she/her, Policy & Campaigns Manager. Aidee Pascual, she/her, Administrative Assistant. Kat Phan, she/her, 2022 Intern.

Click to read more about our team.

January is a time of renewal and reflection.
This month, we highlight Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director of the New Jersey chapter of Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ). CAIR-NJ is at the fore of the fight to designate January as Muslim Awareness and Appreciation month. Selaedin reminds us about the importance of reflecting on the legacies and movements that came before us and celebrating the richness of our diversity.

In Solidarity and Community,
Amy Torres

 

Member Spotlight

 It's a blessing to be a part of a social movement that stands on the frontlines. We proudly and humbly stand on the shoulders of those that came before us, and the legacies of those who did tenfold of what we are doing today. Championing these causes and being a voice for the voiceless is a huge honor and blessing," says Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director, CAIR-NJ

 
A header image with the words

THE VALUES ACT IS HERE!

The Values Act was re-introduced in the Assembly and Senate as A1986/S512. The Values Act would provide critical protections that allow New Jerseyans to seek support from state and local agencies without fear of deportation. Tell your legislator you expect to see their support!

 

NILC Features NJ's Anti-Detention Law

National Immigration Law Center

The incredible campaign behind the bill that banned new ICE detention agreements, renewals, and expansions was featured in the National Immigration Law Center's annual report on Winning in the States.

The report celebrates New Jersey's win by acknowledging the many fronts of the battle: "The anti-detention fight in New Jersey has been a decades-long movement...but with closure announcements and the ban on new and renewed contracts, New Jersey will not have any ICE detention centers after 2023."
 

Excluded NJ Fund Falls Short

In the midst of the news that major parts of the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund had been diverted and then quickly restored, New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report.

NJPP's analysis finds, "[e]ven if the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund were kept at its original funding level, it does not match the aid provided to others facing financial hardship due to COVID-19." The report goes on to say, "not only do payments...fall far short of the cost of living in New Jersey, but the size of the fund is also too small to reach all excluded workers."
 

Fair Legislative Districts

Legislative redistricting is still underway but time is running out! Your voice is needed to make sure maps are fair, racially just, and representative of your community. 

NJAIJ is a proud member of the Fair Districts coalition. 
Research shows that public testimony at redistricting hearings is effective when it offers specific instructions to mapmakers, focuses on small-scale changes (like keeping a neighborhood together), and effectively defines a community and its needs for representation. You are the expert on your community. Get involved!
 

Ready to act? Spread the word:

New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice


P.O. Box, 200492,  | Newark, New Jersey  07102| [email protected]

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