No Justice, No Peace
Updated: Jul 30
By: Erin Zipman and Hridesh Singh
These past few days have been filled with pain, anger, and trauma. The world has been grappling with the killing of George Floyd on Monday, May 25th, 2020, at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers. We must acknowledge the ongoing trauma that Black people face, both in watching their fellow people die, and living in a nation rooted in systemic racism.
George Floyd should still be with us today.
Instead, his name has now become a cry of pain from a people that have long been silenced. In response, there are posts from the white community on social media about peace and unity, ‘diversity committees’ are set up to look into reaching out to ‘minority communities,’ and then nothing else is done. The issue of systemic racism is never confronted directly in our everyday lives, and so we have lost George Floyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless more.
We know that words are never enough to heal the pain, and words are not enough to uproot the racism that digs its way into every aspect of our lives. The suffering of Black people in the U.S. is the consequence of white people’s inability to confront how racism has both served them for centuries and become a poison to our society. We must understand that George Floyd did not die just because of one racist, violent cop. He died because of the systemic racism entrenched within the very fabric of our society that has socialized each and everyone of us to view Black people as ‘other.’
We at the New York Youth Climate Leaders understand that our efforts in combating the climate crisis must come hand-in-hand with dismantling systemic racism. Historically, the climate movement has largely been dominated by white activists with Black voices in particular being unrepresented. Our organization is not immune to this. It is our duty as a climate organization to address this in our work and strive to uplift the communities that have been systematically marginalized by society.
To do this, we need to address not only how Black communities are policed, but also housing inequality, education disparities, rampant economic inequality, lack of healthcare, our justice and carceral system, and virtually every part of our society that has been tinged with racism. We need to address the implicit biases within ourselves and have uncomfortable conversations. And most importantly, we must act to prevent more killings of Black people at the hands of police and uplift Black communities across this nation.
It is not a favor nor a good deed to seek racial justice: it is the responsibility of all white and non-black people who have reaped the benefits of this unjust system to undo the system so that all people can not just survive, but thrive. There is no climate justice without racial justice.
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Erin Zipman is a high school senior on Long Island working with NY²CL and Our Climate towards climate justice and policy.
Hridesh Singh is a current high school senior in Rochester, NY and serves as the Executive Director for the New York Youth Climate Leaders.