Racism Is Killing the Planet
During the street protests and marches of the past two weeks, many people carried signs that read “Racism Is Killing Us.” It’s no exaggeration to say that racism and white supremacy harm all of us, because in addition to robbing us of our humanity, racism is also killing the planet we all share.
How does this all connect to today’s environmental crises? It’s all part of the same story of dehumanization. The pollution-spewing global mega-corporations that created Cancer Alley are just the latest evolution of the extractive white-settler mindset that cleared the forests and plowed the prairies. And just as the settlers had to believe and tell stories to dehumanize the people they killed, plundered, and terrorized, today’s systems of extraction can only work by dehumanizing people. Back then we had the Doctrine of Discovery, and today it’s the doctrine of neoliberalism that say it’s OK to value some lives more than others, that it’s OK for some people to have clean air while others struggle to breathe.
When Amy Cooper, a white woman, has an encounter with a Black man birdwatching in Central Park and calls the police—that is white supremacy. She weaponized the police and used them to racially terrorize someone. She knew what she was doing. She knew her threat had power because her target, Christian Cooper, understood the historical relationship between the police and Black people.
I know that what I’ve laid out here is a lot of dots to connect. I can imagine you thinking, “OK, so how do we end white supremacy then?”