Dear Clean Air Organizers, Members, and Supporters,

I’m honored to have the opportunity to meet and work alongside you all this summer; made possible by Say Yes Buffalo’s Internship Program. My name is Nishat, and I’m a first generation Bengali-American student. Though raised in New York City, I am comforted to say I have been living in Buffalo for nearly a decade now. Upon my move to Western New York, my parents especially couldn’t wait to get started on cultivating a garden unlike ever attainable in the city. POP
My family comes from a nation that’s small yet so big, being the most densely populated in the world, Bangladesh. I was no stranger to the environmental practices implemented by my mother, with fire in her eyes. In conjunction, I grew up with and around a mass of people of color. POP Primarily other South Asian, Burmese, Somali, Caribbean, and Hispanic populations. It became almost customary to exchange our home grown produce or seeds; a familiarly warm sense of community was built.
POP Without a clue; For years we had been consuming toxins built up in the soil, polluted by Buffalo’s decrepit industrial firms. Even worse it’s unfortunate to know that others out there are still unbeknownst to this. Looking back it sometimes feels bittersweet, recognizing that deep down what genuinely connects us all, is a sense of solidarity regarding the day to day struggles we face.
Like any kid, initially I didn’t understand the depth of the environmental crisis, I just saw a fun event planting trees with the City Honor’s Key Club and followed my friends to the local park on a Saturday morning. Similar to many people, I believed environmental issues could be addressed by planting trees, recycling, or maybe even being vegan. POP This exterior front image shattered; With time, I started to recognize the great injustices amongst disadvantaged communities comparingly. A couple of garden projects would not change what has been going on for years.
Working at ECMC, a first responder hospital, I was able to interact with people from all walks of life. POP It was noticeable there was a generational pattern amongst patients facing ailments. Lack of resources, education, and opportunity in low income areas makes the perfect target for corporate gain, at the cost of the wellbeing of our community. Tonawanda Coke, low income neighborhoods and the direct correlation to cancer rates. POP It’s not normal for everyone around us to be sick. There is a much deeper issue at hand.

POP POP POP; it seems as though bubbles all around me were bursting one after the other. Very few people can say they have seen me angry, and for the first time I was enraged with this feeling that would not, could not simply just go away. The systematic corruption and injustice was disheartening, in addition to my firsthand experiences dealing with racism and discrimination, my eyes were forced open, but for the better.
Awareness is the first step towards change. I couldn’t stand to remain in my own ignorance and started to get involved with the Western New York Climate Council. Introducing me to possibilities of addressing these injustices on a greater scale, reaching out to community members, petitions and campaigns for change. I wished to extend myself toward these marginalized communities and began to intern at Jewish Family Services in Refugee Settlement. Following, I still felt incredibly passionate about connecting to and educating communities on a deeper level. This yearning guided me towards Volunteers around the World. Located in San Pedro, the Guatemala chapter would provide aid and educate families on Public Health. After months of preparation unfortunately this trip was never launched due to the events of Covid-19.
It was essential to redirect my quest, anticipating where I would be able to play a role in and witness the changes I wanted to see, along with making connections with others like me. Finding out about the Clean Air Coalition was a blessing. I uncovered so many of this organization’s beliefs, campaigns and goals that align with my personal mission. I hope to continually learn and advocate for public health, environmental, and social justice. I cannot express my excitement for this summer, and look forward to the chance to meet you all. We stand together, in strength and resilience.

In Solidarity

Nishat Inqiyad

Communications and Outreach Intern

Clean Air Coalition of WNY

RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.