No Climate Justice without Racial Justice

June 03, 2020 at 1:40 PM

Our imperfect union is in turmoil, choking on the deadly long-term effects of systemic racism. So many can’t breathe through the toxins literally and figuratively polluting a culture built on racism and inequality -- a system that relies on the sacrifices of the marginalized many for the comfort of a powerful few.

This systemic bigotry guarantees that every crisis hits vulnerable communities much harder than others. Pandemics. Violence and brutality. Poisonous climates. As Eric Holthaus recently wrote, “Climate change is racist because the system that caused it is racist…. The urgency of climate change is also an urgency for racial justice.” As our democracy finds its way through this fragile time, we must focus on these intertwined issues. And the scale of our collective response must reflect the enormous scale of the problems before us.

Ohio Citizen Action has been organizing people to fight for renewable energy, consumer rights, and government and corporate accountability for 45 years. We recognize both the potential and peril in this opportunity before us, to perhaps finally clear the air of ugly prejudices of all kinds. OCA will do what we do best -- we will organize. We will work to be a reliable ally in this ongoing fight for change. We vow to listen to Black voices and all people of color, to all those that have been too often violently marginalized. Really, truly listen, and hold ourselves accountable as well. You and I were all born into this irretrievably broken system. Rooting out systemic racism requires advocating for broad systemic changes.

Who better to start with than ourselves?

-- Rachael Belz, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action


Listening/Reading resources

First, A Quick Read for White People Who Don't Consider Themselves Racist by Ola Caracola 

Studies from the Racial Equity Institute

Dismantling Racism Works web workbook  DismantlingRacism.org

A Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 'Fed Up'-rising The Root

Black History Month Library list compiled by Charles Preston

A Week of Podcasts for the Advocate New to Climate Justice Alexis Plair

I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Washington Post

White Dominant Culture Components Alliance for Climate Education

Cheryl Holder: The link between climate change, health and poverty 

Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus.  JSTOR Daily

#BlackLivesMatter in Ohio Towns and Villages, Too, Lynn Tramonte, Medium

Anti-Racism for White People, Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020

America, this is your chance, Michelle Alexander, New York Times