What’s Going On Here?
In light of the recent rise in racist police brutality in the US, we’re taking an important look at the intersections of environmentalism and racial justice.
What Does This Mean?
It might not seem obvious at first, but there is a huge intersection between race and environmental issues such as climate change.Here’s why:
Climate change and ecological destruction disproportionately impacts vulnerable people – the poor, disempowered and marginalised including people of colour. Whether its food shortages, extreme weather events, air pollution or tornadoes. Black British Africans are 28% more likely than their white counterparts to be exposed to air pollution. Around the world – toxic chemical plants are often placed near poor communities and people of colour, silencing voices and threatening human health. Non-white communities across the globe are bearing the brunt of climate change and yet they are least responsible for it.
Severely underrepresented in politics and mainstream environmental groups, non-white voices are so often unheard. Exclusion and anti-blackness is rife in current climate activism, described as ‘Climate Chads’ in this article. In the working world, only 0.6% of environmental professionals are non-white.
The climate crisis does not simply exist in a vacuum. Black, indigenous and people of colour communities have faced a long history of injustice. Deep rooted issues of class and colonialism go hand in hand with exploitative capitalism and dispossession of people from their land.
Why Should We Care?
The destruction of our natural environment and racial inequality are both symptoms of the same problematic system. A system that not only prioritises profit over planet, but one that is designed to maintain inequality and perpetuate discrimination. Without challenging it and dismantling the power structures that have consistently exploited both people and the planet for centuries, we will not see the environmental changes we need.
With this in mind, intersectional environmentalism is essential ➡️ ‘We simply cannot fight climate change without being anti-racist.’
The horrific killing of George Floyd is yet another reminder that we have a long, long way to go. System change is needed now more than ever.
Here at Curious.earth HQ, we’re taking the time to pause, reflect, listen, learn and act. From covering more topics of social justice to diversifying our team – we can and will be better.
Here are a couple ways you can step up during this time of reflection;
- Educate yourself – no one else can do this for you. It is your responsibility to do your own research. Check out SOAS SU resource pack for fighting anti-blackness.
- Follow these eco-warriors on insta: @MikaelaLoach, @AjaBarber, @queerbrownvegan, @greengirlleah, @browngirlgreen, as well as environmentalist and UK race campaigner Mya-Rose Craig @birdgirluk.
- Check out these great organisations fighting for climate justice: The Mary Robinson Foundation, Global Justice and The Environmental Justice Foundation.
- Advocate for people and the planet – commit to fighting racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. Speak up, call people out, have difficult conversations. And bring it into your environmental activism. The climate movement cannot be silent.