This week thousands of people are taking to the streets in response to the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other unarmed Black men, women, and children, often at the hands of the police.
The systemic racism spurring these protests should be profoundly troubling to us all. As a network that has supported many peaceful demonstrations, we know the power of people marching in the streets to make lasting change and we stand with them. We vehemently oppose the actions of the President of the United States to incite violence against peaceful protesters.
The need for justice is urgent. Everywhere we look we see the devastating and compounding effects of racism and white supremacy in our culture and our policies. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of over 100,000 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. Black communities are experiencing greater impacts from climate change, like flooding and heatwaves. Pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is killing communities of color, causing life-threatening conditions like severe asthma and cancer, all further complicated by the lack of access to good medical systems. This is not a coincidence. 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 encourages you to join us in working to lift up, support, and follow the lead of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations. Do more right now by joining the week of action for Black Lives, and donating to bail funds for protesters against police violence.
For those who benefit from white privilege, we need to look critically at the way we are complicit in upholding white supremacist systems and challenge ourselves to make changes in all areas of our lives. Here is some suggested reading to start.