The recent upheavals and very intense expressions of violence and racism deserve a response commensurate with the seriousness and complexity of the moment.
Here at 350.org, we’re reflecting on how these atrocities in the United States are taking place against the backdrop of tragedies and killings around the world. We’ve watched in horror at the attacks in Iraq, Turkey, and Bangladesh, the murder of activists in the Philippines, the terrible floods in China and typhoons in Taiwan, and much more. It is hard to put words to moments like these, especially when they are but the most recent in a long story of injustices.
We continue to witness the escalation of violence, outrage, and fear, which stuns us into silence, but also calls us to reach out to others for sanity, solace, and connection. Taking in this violence is devastating. Realizing it has been a daily reality for so many for so long is crushing. This is a critical place in our moment in history. There will be some who will use fear to control our actions and to deepen the divides that exist within our collective humanity. Others will use this time to dismiss those most directly impacted by institutional racism and systemic neglect who are making a desperate plea to have Black Lives Matter. Many will try to silo our movement and declare that these killings have nothing to do with climate change. They will say we must continue to fight only on the issue of climate change.
But this struggle for a better world is complex. Although 350.org focuses its energies on the climate crisis, that crisis is interwoven with myriad related crises — racism, xenophobia, migration, violence. These things are not neatly separate, but inextricable from our climate work in profound ways. (We’ve talked about how and why this is true before — here and here.)
We at 350.org have decided to use this time to dig deeper and grow our resolve that, as Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, “we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We understand that our fight for climate justice is deeply tied to the fight for our collective dignity. Like many of you, we are fiercely committed to our work—to tackle the global climate crisis—and, like many of you, we fight through a lot of pain every day. There are times when our hearts hurt too much to pretend it’s a normal day, and that’s ok. We are human, and having hearts that are open to feeling (sometimes debilitating) sorrow and rage at deep injustice is part of what makes us strong.
I know that in this moment as the seas continue to rise, so will the people. I know the current state of social, political, and economic turmoil will impact our campaigns, our victories, and our failures. I know, in this moment, we need to be vulnerable and clear that we don’t know what all this will mean! We do not know the answers and all we can do is to be. I am encouraging myself and each of you to be. Yes, friends, be sad. . . be in shock. . . be in the streets. . . be in your home. . . be in your contradictions. As you continue to be, I hope you emerge from this moment being resolved to fight this fight with renewed rigor and clarity to create a world where we will no longer need hashtags to remind us that we all deserve dignity, life, and to breathe.
In moments like these, I am so thankful to be in solidarity with so many other organizations that are also fighting for dignity and that can deepen our understanding of this moment and provide opportunities for self-care.
If you need to do something right now, consider donating to black-led organizations fighting for justice. Here’s a list to get started: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/black_led_racial_justice_organizations
There are a lot of good resources out there for self care, like this one: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/4-self-care-resources-days-when-world-terrible
My brother Todd Zimmer suggested this as a helpful read for white people in this moment: http://www.justinccohen.com/blog/2016/7/6/advice-for-white-folks-in-the-wake-of-the-police-murder-of-a-black-person
We all need music so I share this one here: https://medium.com/@bridgetmarie/we-gon-be-alright-a-collaborative-mixtape-for-black-healing-ac1b05463944#.lqf3uk7wt
Everette R. H. Thompson
North America Field Organizer
(In memory of Juan Evans who taught me how to be in times like these. . #loveneverends #blacklivesmatter)