We were all born into a system of white supremacy. Challenging our own implicit or explicit biases and the structures that uphold racism is a part of our work for climate justice. Climate change disproportionately impacts BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities and historically the environmental/climate movement has failed to listen to the needs, experiences and solutions offered by BIPOC activists. We all can work together to change that norm. Here are some ideas on how your team can get started, based on what existing teams have done in the network.
1. Dedicate time for learning together
You could organize a training or workshop for your team with an outside facilitator or organization (reminder: your team has access to funds from For Our Kids that could help cover costs). Or begin with your own reflection on white supremacy culture, its effects on the climate movement, your team, and talk about it together. Some ideas:
Learn together about the Indigenous territories you’re on: Do a circle at a team meeting, sharing what you each know about the Indigenous territories you're on. Or have a working group prepare a presentation to share at a meeting or lead a discussion. Incorporate land acknowledgements and connection to the land and its First Peoples at your events and meetings. More decolonization learning ideas here.
Make Anti-Racism action or sharing news/key learnings a part of your regular meeting agendas: for example, For Our Kids Toronto dedicates the first 15 minutes of every meeting to social justice. They start with a land acknowledgement that is given by a different group member each meeting, and that group member is responsible for making it personal to them. Following the land acknowledgement, another group member shares a new learning related to topics such as anti-racism, Indigenous issues and culture, or local food insecurity, to name a few. These brief presentations can take the form of discussing books or articles the member has read, or mentioning new BIPOC activists or organizations they have learned about.
Video Workshop on Anti-Racism: Organize a 1.5 hour meeting to watch and work through the questions posed in this workshop: You Can't Be Switzerland with Dr. Lisa Gunderson (first hour of video). End the meeting with a go around with your key learnings. Huge thanks to the Mothers Against Racism’s Race Matters Conference for making this publicly available.
Watch a short video at your meeting and discuss:
Read an article in the meeting or as homework, then discuss:
- Racism Is Killing the Planet: The ideology of white supremacy leads the way toward disposable people and a disposable natural world (6 pages)
- Why climate action must also take racial justice into account (8 pages)
- Making space for Black leaders in Canada’s climate movement (6 pages)
2. Intervene and challenge racism that you witness
As we learn more about anti-racism, it’s important to use that knowledge. If you see or hear something, say something. This includes addressing any explicit or implicit biases you notice coming up in yourself. Microaggressions, inappropriate comments or behaviors, racial jokes, denial of the marginalized experience, the centring of white people’s feelings or perspective - these are the daily experiences of many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).
If you benefit from the system of white supremacy, you can use your privileges to confront these different forms of racism. If you feel that someone is being targeted or ignored, let them know you’re noticing it too. Ask them how you could support them. By speaking up when we witness racism we begin to dismantle the system of white supremacy.
3. Financially support and amplify BIPOC-led campaigns, organizations and initiatives. Here are some ideas:
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Assembly of 7 Generations
- Black Lives Matter Canada
- Black Environmental Initiative
- Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice
- Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
- Foundation for Black Communities
- Indigenous Climate Action
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Migrant Rights Network
- Moms Against Racism
- Pay Your Rent
You can also research what BIPOC-led groups are leading locally where you are. You could:
- organize a fundraiser to make a group donation
- support and promote their initiatives & campaigns online and show up to their actions and events in person
- don’t try to recruit them to join your For Our Kids team - introduce your team and let them know you’re there to help if they need support
Know other organizations? Or have other ideas for anti-racist action that the For Our Kids network could take?
Let us know: [email protected].
You can also check out more ideas from our post for families not yet in teams: 5 Ways to Challenge Racism.