Climate Week 2020 September 21–27
Ending Racism and Classism in the Climate Movement
Classism pits workers against each other. Racism hurts and divides us from each other and from our natural environment. Classism and racism structure our institutions. These institutions systematically ensure that wealth and power are hoarded, and that all workers are deprived of much of the resources they have earned, often making survival difficult. Conflict over resources hides the damage to the earth caused by our extractive economy. To be effective in restoring our ecosystems, we have to heal these divisions and build unity.
In this workshop we will:
★ Learn how classism and racism work together to disrupt our efforts to protect ourselves, each other, and our environment
★ Look at costs of racism and classism on individual lives, interpersonal connections, relationships, and our attempts to work together
★ Identify how classism and racism show up in the environmental movement
★ Learn the approaches of Sustaining All Life and United to End Racism to heal these divisions, build unity, and more effectively organize a just transition to an economy that can sustain all life
The Work of SAL and UER
It is possible to limit the effects of human-caused climate change and restore the environment—and some big changes are needed if this is to happen. Sustaining All Life (SAL) and United to End Racism (UER) believe the environmental crisis cannot be resolved without ending racism, genocide of Indigenous peoples, classism, sexism, and other oppressions. The impact of environmental destruction and climate change falls most heavily on the groups targeted by these oppressions, and on other vulnerable populations (including populations of people who are elderly, disabled and very young).
To build a movement powerful enough to resolve the climate crisis, SAL and UER believe that the following barriers must be overcome: (1) longstanding divisions between nations and between groups of people caused by oppression (especially by racism, genocide of Indigenous people, and classism), (2) wide-spread feelings of discouragement and powerlessness, (3) a too-slow response to the escalating damage to the earth’s climate, (4) difficulties in effectively addressing the connections between the environmental crisis and the failures of our economic system.
We have found that these barriers are most quickly overcome as people heal from the mental and emotional harm caused by oppression. SAL and UER events provide opportunities for people to take turns listening to each other while encouraging emotional release. We become better able to think, speak out, organize, unite, and lead others in building a sustainable world.
SAL and UER are projects of and use the tools of Re-evaluation Counseling, which currently exists in 95 countries.