Consciousness and Action for Racial and Environmental Justice
All over the world carbon-intensive lifestyles contribute to floods, droughts, wars and continued exploitative exploration. We remember Ken Saro Wiwa and others who bravely challenged Shell’s oil exploration in Nigeria, receiving the death penalty instead of being listened to. We also remember those people all over Africa challenging environmentally destructive ‘development’. But are Scottish Africans concerned that black indigenous cultures face environmental injustice?
Environmental Justice is increasingly seen as an anti-racism issue. ‘Environmental racism’ (the disproportionate impact of climate and environmental injustice on black and indigenous communities) contradicts human rights agendas on access to clean, healthy environments for all. How does climate change in Africa and the Caribbean affect our daily lives here?
As research develops, fresh evidence highlights that UK ethnic minorities experience greater exposure to poor air quality – a consequence of disproportionate living within areas of multiple deprivation, where there’s also high concentration of airports and carbon-heavy industries. BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities therefore live daily with pollution – often coming off worst in climate change terms. What can Scottish Africans do practically to combat the effects of climate change in our daily lives?
Our project will create awareness of the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change in Africa and the Caribbean through creative action and popular education methods:
- African family fun-day outings to environmental sites and projects
- Environmental bus tours to Clydebank and Grangemouth
- Series of panel debates, seminars/workshops with Glasgow & Edinburgh university student unions and African Caribbean Societies
- Promote low carbon technologies through the green refurbishment of the African Caribbean Centre which can also highlight domestic African & Caribbean (A&C) fuel poverty.
To raise environmental awareness and activism within our communities we will:
1. Debate climate change causes, impacts and solutions in Niger Delta region’s oil extraction, Haiti’s earthquake, and Darfur-Sudan’s and DR Congo’s land and resource wars.
2. Highlight the rapid changes needed to reduce high carbon-emitting and wasteful consumptive activities amongst A&C communities in Glasgow.
3. Provide tools and perspectives for developing multiracial perspectives and inclusive strategies for direct action through videoconference links with MEND (Nigeria); Capacity Global (UK) and author/activist Van Jones (US) – making solidarity links between affected communities in African and Caribbean nations and Scottish Diaspora A&C communities.
4. Highlight the inspiring tradition of resistance to environmental racism by marking the 15th Anniversary of Saro Wiwa’s execution with a guest speaker from Remember Saro Wiwa campaign.
5. Overcome barriers to participation by (a) Challenging perceptions of those interested in climate change on race and class grounds; (b) Relating climate change to immediate concerns of poverty, unemployment & poorer housing; (c) Providing platforms for refugees and asylum seekers to speak about climate justice – a key reason for seeking sanctuary; (d) Encouraging our communities to take the necessary positive action for climate justice; (e) Challenge Scottish A&C attitudes to climate change – and make preparations by reducing high carbon emitting activities and wasteful consumption; (f) Encouraging greater A&C participation and planning of future Climate Camp events.
So We Stand is a people’s movement organising for empowering social change to develop multiracial politics and self defence strategies to better our lives and communities. Through our creativity we strive for environmental justice, dignity and self-determination in the face of growing inequality.
Graham Campbell, Network Development Coordinator, African & Caribbean Network