Why am I a climate activist? The answer is simple: I care about the environment and all living things that depend on it. I want to make the planet a place that is habitable for all. Similarly, I am a racial justice advocate because I want to make our societies hospitable and equitable to all. The fundamental principle, true in nature and our human relationships, is that we all depend on each other. Flowers depend on bees to pollinate, birds depend on flowers for food, and other animals like foxes and owls depend on the birds for prey. Analogous to this chain, people depend on each other to make our societies function and to spread the beauty of life, through culture and humanity.
The true intersection between climate justice and racial justice stems from system racism, so let’s talk facts. In communities of color, there is a disproportionate amount of hazardous waste sites. Children who live in Flint, Michigan who have drank lead-poisoned water are having neurological and behavioral problems. Many Black and Indigenous people of color, BIPOC, live in food deserts with difficulty accessing food. Pollution runs rampant in areas that house high numbers of BIPOC. These are just a few of the long list of environmental injustices many face in the United States today.
Black and Indigenous people deserve better. By working to solve these problems, imagine how effective climate activism will be when BIPOC can focus on the environment. Our earth depends on the contributions of BIPOC, so we must stand up together to fight for the rights and livelihoods of those very people.
Innocent black people being killed by policemen, indigenous land being exploited and destroyed by pipelines, and the systemic racism present in the broken education system calls upon all climate advocates. We are called upon because racism and climate change are not completely separate entities. These two issues interweave with each other, and we can only reverse one by working towards reversing both.
If we are to be climate activists, we must also be racial justice advocates.
Here are some resources to do more research and help BIPOC communities: