Climate Change Isn’t Racist — People Are
We cannot assess the damage without looking at the impact on people of color
It’s been a hot summer. I’m talking Do the Right Thing–type heat. The type of heat where you can’t tell what’s coming next — a thunderstorm or a riot.
In times like this, I think about the many, many communities around the country that don’t have clean drinking water. Multiply that by the millions around the world that never had it, and recognize who those people are and how much they look like me. Then I remember that it’s not an accident.
Climate change itself is not racist, but it is the product of racism.
I think about the communities in Brooklyn that lost power during New York’s weekend from what had to be hell and who lives in those communities. That, too, was no accident.
I think about the viral video of a Black man in Las Vegas being placed in a violent choke hold for selling water in triple-digit weather. The video turned out to be from 2013. But does that really make it any better? Just last summer, the police were called on an eight-year-old Black child for selling water without a permit.
I think about Hurricane Katrina and the accusations of looting levied at people who looked like me. The people abandoned on rooftops. The gangs of vigilantes who roamed the streets of New Orleans targeting Black people with impunity, not unlike the lynch mobs of the 1950s. And this on the 50th anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder.
I think about Hurricane Maria and the help that just never came for so many. I think about the suicide spike. I think about the drinking water crisis that existed in Puerto Rico before Maria and was so exacerbated by the storm that people began to drink from known toxic sites. The kind of trauma that passes through generations.
People tell me all the time that climate change isn’t racist. My insistence to connect race and racism to the conversation is seen as “divisive” and a “distraction” or “identity politics.” But climate change is a man-made problem. If I can be real, it is a White-man-made problem. And White men are racist AF. (Sure, not all, but the racist ones have managed to make…