Updated: Aug 4, 2022
Ask yourselves. When you imagine climate change what first comes to mind?
Ozone layer, global warming, animal extinction, solar panels, and fossil fuels.
Racism?... Most likely not.
Now the question is what do you know about racism? How are minority groups presently affected by it? It's easy to imagine poverty or unemployment.
You heard what Yasmin just explained. Minority groups face hardships involving lower social and economic statuses at much greater rates, and this can make it difficult to access or afford help in order to prevent or solve the issues. As society is changed by the effects of climate change globally, heat and rising sea levels, will continue to grow. And the minority groups who suffer from these things won’t be able to receive the correct care.
As I further researched this topic as I was writing this speech I found a great analogy: the Titanic, which of course we all know. Imagine we are all on a boat, a proverbial Titanic, and we have just hit the climate iceberg. Sure, in reality we may all be on the Titanic and that’s enough glory within itself, but many seem to forget the Titanic was filled with the rich, white families who were given the opportunity to attend. Now back to our ship, just as the Titan was before, it’s filled with rich, white industrialized countries partying amongst the top deck, sipping their cocktails, listening to the orchestra and waiting for some technological fix to save them, whilst in the hold of the Titanic are black, brown, indigenous people, poor brown and black people from the Global South, who are already drowning, and when they try and flee, they find that the escape hatch is bolted.
Of course there are some of you who are thinking, why does everything have to be racist? Climate change, of all things, connected with race?
The basis of American institutions, law and systems were built by people who claimed to support the conservation of Earth - who wanted the privilege of enjoying the trees and open space while viewing city life and who pertained to only their feelings and necessities when creating it. Who supposedly cared about the very land we gather upon today. And who did they pay no mind to? Who did they repeatedly disregard and discriminate and abuse and murder?
America was built off of the oppression of minorities, whether it’s race, gender, sexuality, or more. They are already effected and treated disproportionately. Less likely to access healthcare, jobs, housing, safety provided by the very individuals who vowed to protect all. Of course minorities are disproportionately affected, look around.
Climate change is a racist crisis. I don’t know how to explain it any better. It picks on minorities and marginalized groups just as much, if not more, than all the other programs and concepts within America. And if you continue to retaliate against this global catastrophe, you are just as ignorant and foolish as the people who made it start and chose not to fix it.
As we gather here today and progress into the summer, enjoy the beaches and the nice weather while you can because as those suffer from the extreme heat elsewhere as you sunbathe in the sand, remember there are those who don’t get to go home in the AC when they are tired of the sun. There are those who can’t grab a quick drink of water and continue the fun. And if the world continues down the path we are on without making a difference within the climate crisis, soon you will be in that position too.