Guest post by Maurice Mitchell – National Director Working Families Party

Late last month, my mother’s homeland of Trinidad and Tobago faced its worst flooding in years. Massive rainfall forced towns to evacuate, as cars and homes were completely submerged and whole communities were cut off from the rest of the island. People saw their houses wrecked by massive mudslides.

Although I was raised in the United States, my family gave me a strong sense of Caribbean identity. And I saw my parents’ uncommon resilience and ingenuity reflected in the videos and reports of people wading through water, desperately processing loss, but rising to the occasion through optimism and fortitude.

It also gave me a powerful sense of deja vu.

Photo: Trinidad Express

In 2012, I and my family became storm refugees when Hurricane Sandy wiped away our home and all our possessions. We had to lean on that resilient current within us. It was traumatic and disorienting, but we had each other. We endured, and we rebuilt.

As I watched the flooding in Trinidad and Tobago, all the emotions from Sandy came rushing back. Not just the sense of loss, but the anger. Because even though they took place six years apart, the hurricane that devastated our Long Island home and the deluge in my mother’s homeland were linked. They are each the the violent product of a political and existential crisis — climate change.

Environmentalism is often framed as niche issue for the privileged. We tend to think of nature and ecology as abstract concepts outside of our day to day lives. What we rarely sit in is the fact that we are of nature, that we are part of the ecological balance, and that these crises devastate human lives.

What’s more, the lives that are most impacted by environmental crisis are those of people of color, poor, and working class people, both in the U.S. and in developing countries around the world.

Floods in Trinidad, October 2018. Photo: Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government


What’s clear to me is that organized capital has taken advantage of the dysfunctional political system in the United States to and set us on a path that put short-term profit ahead of people. While the rest of the world attempts to address these global concerns, big oil and other multinational corporations have captured our political system and commandeered the immense capacities of the U.S. government to subvert efforts to fight climate change, even as climate change destroys lives and devastates communities around the world.

The impact of this sabotage is deadly, and it’s people of color, poor people, and others around the world that feel the brunt of it. What makes this approach more maddening is that this climate disaster will eventually take the names of more and more people across class, race, and region.  

But in the face of this crisis of political will and corporate irresponsibility I continue to rely on the resilience and hope of my Caribbean immigrant upbringing. We can interrupt this insanity through collective action. We have the tools to dismantle the two-party system that corporations keep in their pockets. Join us by voting, organizing, and building the multiracial populist mass-movement that will overcome the narrow interests of organized capital.  

We can do this. And for our families, here and abroad, we must.


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