Climate Justice Calls for Racial Justice, End to White Supremacy

By Kimberly Kishon, Masada Disenhouse and Susan Duerksen

Black people in the U.S. are subject to violence and unjust death regularly – including at the hands of police who are supposed to protect all of us. We, the people of this country, have allowed institutionalized racism to go unchecked for centuries. 

It shows up in every aspect of peoples’ lives, devastatingly in safety, health, environmental and economic inequities. The coronavirus pandemic starkly highlights how rules apply differently based on a person’s skin color – who gets sickest, who can afford healthcare, who has no choice but to work in an unsafe environment. The communities hit hardest by environmental and climate impacts are primarily communities of color — and those least responsible for creating the problem. “People of color are more likely than white people to live alongside power plants, oil refineries and landfills.” (from the LA Times’ Sammy Roth:  Why communities fighting for fair policing also demand environmental justice).

This is a critical moment in history — and it can be a national turning point for racial justice. SanDiego350 leaders believe we, as advocates for climate justice, must stand for  dismantling institutional racism and white supremacy. We strive for a world where people of color have a safe and healthy future on this planet. 

In the words of leaders at 350.org, Rell Brown and Natalia Cardona, “There is no just recovery for climate without addressing the systemic extraction, harm and violence towards Black communities. Building a movement rooted in the needs of those most oppressed is the only way we can achieve liberation for all.”

What is SanDiego350 doing to support racial justice?

It is not enough to be passively non-racist. We must all take action to oppose racism, not just in our personal lives but wherever it exists systemically in the society we create together. We can’t just talk about racism, we have to stamp it out.

In the coming weeks, you will hear about how SD350 plans to more intentionally center racial justice in our work and take important internal steps to ensure our organization is more inclusive and diverse. As a primarily white, middle class volunteer led organization, we know we have significant growing to do.

We look forward to building on our policy work in partnership with people of color (POC)-led community organizations that advocates for equity in climate action planning, transportation, and state legislation; our youth engagement work; supporting partners on non-climate justice issues.

SanDiego350 Commits To:

  1. Share racial justice action steps from black-led organizations with our membership
  2. Focus our climate policy work always on stopping, reversing, and preventing climate  harm to communities of color
  3. Do internal work to uplift diverse voices, improve our practices, and train our membership on dismantling white supremacy
  4. Follow the leadership of POC-led partners 

Below are some specific actions we urge you to take. 

Above all, keep in mind that this is a particularly traumatic time for black Americans. This is not the time for white people to lead, nor is it the time to ask black people for advice or forgiveness. Make space for black people to grieve. Be sensitive, active and present in your responses. Step back, listen, learn and support. 

Get Connected

Subscribe to receive updates & action alerts from San Diego’s local chapters:

Take Action

  • Sign pandemic-related petitions by Black Lives Matter.
  • Sign the petition in support of San Diegans for Justice’s campaign for a ballot initiative to establish a community-led independent Commission on Police Practices.
  • Call on your local elected representatives to divest from white supremacy, which includes divestment from industrial multinational use of fossil fuels and investment in community- based sustainable energy solutions. 

Donate 

Learn

  • Flatten The Curve Of Inequality – a 5-part weekly web series hosted by the San Diego ACLU, where local advocates will share the work they’ve been doing to support families and communities during this crisis. Starts June 4th!
  • For white folks, watch this 22-minute lecture: Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo
  • Follow black writers and activists including Rachel Cargle, Brittany Packnett, Layla Saad 
  • The Movement for Black Lives calls on us to learn about the arguments for defunding the police and re-envisioning public safety, which is not a new idea. We must challenge ingrained ideas about safety. Useful info/resources

More resources from 350.org

You can find more opportunities to support nationally and in Minnesota here.

About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.