As the world grapples currently with racial inequalities and power imbalances, the environmental movement should recognize its intrinsic ties to movements like Black Lives Matter. These social movements actively resist and defy oppressors instead of solely using persuasion. Such defiance inspires everyone to resist together in order to defeat a broken system and overcome exploitation by the privileged.
Human rights cannot be truly protected without addressing the inextricable links between discrimination, oppression, and environmental abuse. People and land across the world are exploited by those in power to fuel an unsustainable economy for their own profit. Consumers participate in this system and contribute to the overconsumption and waste that this economy promotes, but at what cost? The global elite continues to gain power at the cost of essential, life-supporting ecosystems and poor communities. Climate change and environmental harm is an immediate, life-threatening issue – especially for people of color. Class and race ultimately dictate who receives the brunt of environmental degradation and leaves people vulnerable, which has become even more evident during this pandemic.
Environmental justice intersects social justice and environmentalism. It delegitimizes the oppressive violence that forces communities to cooperate with racism and environmental exploitation. Environmental intersectionality recognizes the links between oppressions like racism and classism with environmental problems. Through this approach, justice is achieved by joining these largely separate efforts. Power has historically been derived by pitting groups against each other. Through our communities and activist networks, we need to combine our efforts to liberate the planet and minority communities by building an equitable and sustainable world. Together, we can win.
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