Usually, these scientific climate change types don’t particularly care…about racism in America or what is going on with black people. And so I have to give him his props, at least for honesty, when he sticks out his neck when he says:
I think it all comes down to logic, really. If your science advocacy isn’t intersectional, it will ultimately fail. If your work to combat religious intolerance isn’t intersectional, it will ultimately fail. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it will ultimately fail.
While global warming isn’t the type of oppression that usually gets lumped in with racism, homophobia, ableism, misogyny, or various other forms of bigotry, it is entirely the result of the same fucked up social apparatus. Global warming doesn’t get put in the category of identity politics, but, for instance, if I think honestly and critically about it, I personally identify as a person that doesn’t want to see human beings face a climate apocalypse. This is part of my identity.
We know this aforementioned fucked up social apparatus by many names: the patriarchy, white supremacy, the oligarchy, heteronormativity, jingoism, hate, inequality. Take your pick. It’s many facets distract from the core at which they all intersect and are inexorably linked: injustice. You cannot even perceive it or hope to fight it until you acknowledge how all-encompassing it is. An ableist solution to racism is no solution at all. A racist solution to global warming is no solution at all. A sexist solution to exploitative labor practices is no solution at all.
A concrete example can make this even clearer. Earlier this year, there was a march for science in response to the woefully anti-scientific administration that has made devastating funding cuts to science and put anti-science hacks in charge of education and, ironically, government oversight of science. How did these people get elected? Who was their constituency? Did they not make use of racist rhetoric to garner the votes of white supremacists, to the point those same white supremacists were even phone banking for them? Did they not get installed into power by disparaging women, threatening the LGBTQ community, and engaging in Islamophobic rhetoric?
Did these same people not strip away the rights and dignity of the most marginalized people in America when they sent corporate security thugs with water cannons and firearms into the frozen Standing Rock reservation to make way for an oligarchic energy company’s pipeline, enabling them to further distribute fossil fuel, contributing to yet more global warming, all so some powerful people could make a buck?
In fact, the Standing Rock Sioux and the myriad water protectors from other nations and groups were frontline fighters in the battle against climate change, risking harassment, arrest, frostbite, and even death. And why did this happen? White supremacy made it possible to lay an oil pipeline through sacred Sioux territory after the original plans to run it through a white community were nixed. White supremacy lies at the heart of the disenfranchisement of the Sioux, and at the heart of global warming. The same people who don’t care about the sovereignty of the Sioux also don’t care about black lives or irreversible damage to the entire earth and its atmosphere.
If you are an activist, then you have to ask yourself if you are looking out for your own interests, or if you truly do believe in justice for all. All means everyone. You cannot throw one disenfranchised group under the bus to lift another group up and realistically expect everything to turn out well. We each are ignorant about so many things, and this ignorance makes our advocacy illegitimate if we cannot learn from and rectify our inevitable mistakes, hear what other people are actually trying to say, and open our eyes to injustices to which we may not have even been aware yesterday or last week or last year.