The need for justice is urgent. Everywhere we look we see the compounding effects of racism in our culture and our policies. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of over 500,000 people in our country, with a quarter of those lives lost being Black Americans – a number that is disproportionately high because of environmental injustice, social injustice, and racism.
Communities of color are experiencing greater impacts from climate change like flooding and heatwaves, greater harm from the pollution from the burning of fossil fuels that is causing life-threatening conditions like severe asthma and cancer, and disproportionately high deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. The climate crisis, environmental justice crisis, and health crisis are racial injustice crises that are all connected and rooted in systemic injustice.
We cannot solve the climate crisis without addressing the systemic racism and oppression that continues to plague our culture, our history, and our laws. The Michigan Climate Action Network is committed to building a racially diverse network, supporting BIPOC-led movements and frontline communities, making sure people of color and those most impacted are at the table where decisions are made, and to making justice and equity central to our work.
As part of MiCAN's journey to become a more just, diverse, and inclusive network, at our 2017 annual meeting we adopted the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing. These principles were created in 1996 during a meeting hosted by the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice "with the intention of hammering out common misunderstandings between participants from different cultures, politics, and organizations." Each principle has an important description that you can read in the full document.
Image: Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light