Washtenaw Climate Reality stands with Black Lives Matter
We are living in perilous times. A viral pandemic has swept the globe, infecting more than 2 million Americans and leaving 118,000 Americans dead. Once again, another unarmed African American man has been killed by a police officer. And Americans are rising up in protest against this atrocity and more importantly, against the systemic racism that allows these killings to happen with such astonishing frequency and regularity.
African Americans have been speaking out about police brutality in their communities for a very long time. It has been far too easy, and far too common, for white Americans to dismiss such complaints as exaggerations. Now in the age of cell phones with cameras, the evidence is clear and the facts can no longer be denied: African Americans continue to be subjected to police brutality, sometimes lethal, at a disproportionately high rate.
No one could fail to be sickened by the sight of George Floyd being choked to death by a police officer’s knee while three fellow officers looked on and failed to intervene. No minimally observant person could be blind to the pattern of such police abuse toward the African American community. And no person of conscience could possibly think that we can just go back to business as usual. It is not just a matter of bringing the offending officers to justice. The culture and the structures that allow these killings must be transformed. The systematic discrimination against African Americans in housing, education, employment, and health care must be ended once and for all. The whole array of injustices that African Americans are subjected to on a daily basis must be eliminated, root and branch. Possibly, hopefully, we will finally come to terms with the 401-year history of oppression toward African Americans.
We at Washtenaw Climate Reality, with our colleagues at Ann Arbor Citizens’ Climate Lobby, are dedicated to the fight against global climate change. At this moment, the fight against climate change has receded in its prominence due to the greater salience and immediacy of the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd. This is understandable and appropriate. We would like to take this opportunity to state clearly and unequivocally that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality in communities of color and all other forms of racial oppression and discrimination. We commit to actions that will advance equity, including listening to and amplifying Black voices, marching for justice, advocating for policy changes, and getting out the vote for 2020 elections and beyond.
We as climate activists pledge to be mindful of the particular conditions and concerns of African Americans and all communities of color. Indeed, communities of color are at the front lines of climate change as well as other forms of environmental injustice. African Americans will continue to suffer disproportionately from unchecked climate change, just as they are suffering disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic and have always suffered from systemic racism. In a very real sense, these are all facets of a single phenomenon: The devaluing of Black lives. This must finally come to an end.