From the September 26th edition of our Lady Parts newsletter, written by our CEO Jen Gurecki. Want more? Subscribe below.
This week I want to talk about Greta Thunberg.
To start, I love her new Twitter bio. Her speech at the UN demonstrated a maturity and an ability to speak truth to the climate crisis that eludes politicians and most adults. She’s galvanized the world around what is arguably the most pressing issue of our time.
She’s also not alone.
Indigenous people have been fighting to protect their ancestral land, their culture, and ultimately their existence ever since it was stolen from them. They are are the OG climate activists. Yet because of racism and poverty and power imbalances and lack of access to the media and so much more, their stories and their work has been erased.
That doesn’t mean that Greta should stop what she’s doing. At the same time that I admire and value Greta’s work I can also recognize that the fact that the work of Black and Brown people is not celebrated or even acknowledged by the media is problematic—it reinforces white supremacy.
We all know that an angry white woman is more palatable than an angry Black woman. Perhaps that’s why more than three climate activists, most of whom People of Color (POC), were murdered every week in 2018.
POC are not only living the consequences of the climate crisis right now (I can talk about this for days based on my work in Kenya with Zawadisha and that PhD I dropped out of), but they are the ones who suffering financially because of it, being murdered and jailed for their activism, and being erased by the media and popular culture.
Let me be really clear here—Greta is not responsible to provide the world with a complete and comprehensive overview of the climate crisis. We should not tear her down because adults and the media aren’t able to pay attention to the work of other activists that has been there all along.
However, we must recognize that propping up Greta while erasing POC is the same behavior and mindset that has led to the climate crisis in the first place.
And the solution is simple. All we have to do is educate ourselves about the other climate activists (you can read here, here, and here) and then talk about them in the same conversations we’re having about Greta.
I’ll be speaking more about how the women that I work with in Kenya are on the front lines of the climate crisis at the We Are Change Makers Summit on October 4th if you happen to be in Reno. Kriste Peoples is the Keynote and it’s going to be simply amazing.
Finally, I want to give a big shout out to Dr. Kiona who put together a comprehensive list of resources and thought provoking statements on her Instagram. Just because it’s Instagram doesn’t mean that it’s not legit; in fact we should start recognizing how the truth telling that happens on Instagram challenges the ivory tower of academia. She was my inspiration for this piece and approved my request to share her work. Please follow her, support her work, and check out her new How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch column in the newest issue of Sisu Magazine.