American Axle Team

This post comes to you from the American Axle Team: Ms. Sydney Brown, Ms. Mary Blue, Ms. Della Miller, Ms. Shirley Stitt and Ms. Shelda Cunningham

On our team, we believe in making this community whole. Making a community whole means full remediation of the former American Axle site and cleaning up all contamination that may have spread into the property of families living near the site. Making a community whole means the ability to garden, the ability for children to play in the dirt in their backyards and the ability to be confident that where we live doesn’t make us sick. Making our community whole isn’t a luxury or an unreasonable demand; it is what we deserve.

This year, our American Axle Steering Committee met in parks, in members’ backyards and on many conference calls to carry out our work of ensuring this site is cleaned up and that our people have a seat at the table. Over the summer, we organized for and passed a unanimous resolution in support of our call for a Community Advisory Group on the cleanup at the American Axle site, which was co-sponsored by each and every memberb of Erie County Legislature. We put together a robust public comment to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation outlining, in detail, our concerns and recommendations for the Brownfield cleanup and testing plan, and we got many community members and other stakeholders to do the same. We didn’t give up the fight even when we had doors slammed in our faces.

One of those doors that slammed on us was from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, who granted an advisory group for our fellow members in Tonawanda, but denied our team and community the same opportunity. We were appalled at the utter neglect by the State of New York of a Black community that has worked diligently for more than 10 years to clean up the PCBs and other hazardous waste left behind and in our neighborhood. How could they say that “Black lives matter” and then fail to stand for the health and dignity of all Black lives?

Even though they slammed the door on us, we joined together and pushed back, publishing a powerful response in the Buffalo News with our Tonawanda Coke Team comrades. As members of Clean Air, we made our position clear: an injustice done to one of us, is an injustice done to all of us. We will not accept the state’s disregard for Black health and dignity, and we will not be placated by an advisory group in Tonawanda at the expense of our lives and dignity in Delavan-Grider. We keep fighting for our health, dignity, justice and wholeness, because we know that we are on the freedom side.

In the midst of a global pandemic and national uprising for Black lives, the inequality of access to community decision-making and the environmental racism within our region has been put on full display. As members of the American Axle Steering Committee, we will not stop until we are able to breathe easy knowing that the grass our children play on, our neighbors garden in and the water that we all drink is safe and that our voices are heard.

As the government sides with developers, our intelligent and passionate movements grow in response to the systematic injustice. We are boldly stepping into roles to protect ourselves and our neighbors through dreaming, demanding and creating a healthy and just community. The resilience of our community shows. The interconnected strength and power of our community is crystal clear, and we are not seeking to simply redistribute environmental harms, but to abolish them.

But we cannot do this work alone. We need you to join us in supporting our dreams for a world that centers health, dignity, joy and justice. When you join our work, you are joining a team that cares for one another and puts in the hard work to make our visions a reality.

Can you join us by becoming a Member or Supporter of Clean Air today so that we can take flight in our fight?

With love and justice,

The American Axle Steering Committee

Ms. Sydney Brown, Ms. Mary Blue, Ms. Della Miller, Ms. Shirley Stitt, Ms. Shelda Cunningham

RSS 2.0 feed. Reply to post, or trackback.

Leave a Reply