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Climate activists at Sunrise Movement: ‘The fight against climate change exists alongside the fight against white supremacy and colonialism’

Sunrise Movement

‘Climate Justice Movement Must Oppose White Supremacy’

by Mattias Lehman, Sunrise Movement Digital Director

Excerpt: The United States was built by African slaves on land stolen via Indigenous genocide. As a movement for climate justice, we know that it is necessary to dismantle the underlying systems of extraction, segregation, and racist inequality that have allowed for the exploitation of people and the environment they live in. We cannot achieve climate justice without moving away from police and prisons. Prison labor is only the newest form of racially inflected slave labor in America, with the police as the most recent arm of enforcement. Without racial healing and reparations, there cannot be climate justice.

Before my involvement with Sunrise, I didn’t identify with the climate movement. I have always seen the climate movement as too white, too middle-class, and often more concerned with trees and polar bears than with the human destruction climate change wreaks disproportionately upon Black and Brown communities around the world.

The intersectionality of the Green New Deal is what brought me to Sunrise Movement, and it is what has brought so many people of color into movements for climate justice, particularly the Indigenous movements that have always led the way. For us people of color, the fight against climate change exists alongside the fight against white supremacy and colonialism.

Sunrise Movement is committed to the fight against racism in all its forms and encourages other groups in the climate and environmental movement to join us in speaking out. Now is not the time to stay on the sidelines.


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