Today in New York City, 310,000 people from around the world marched to show their support for the need for climate action. The groups came from faith groups, political circles and environmental activists.
A lot of the people marching were also white.
It is a problem that Jay Kaspian Kang asked former journalist Bill McKibben in the days before the march.
“I think the popular perception of the climate-change movement is that it’s mostly helmed by upper-middle-class white people,” Kang queried.
In response, while McKibben did not exactly agree, he did not entirely dismiss that there were a lot of white people either, he just said they were no longer just hippies.
“That stereotype—that this is a movement for hippies—was true once, to some degree. But it’s not true anymore,” McKibben responded, sidestepping a bit from the harder truth. “I think what happened was people understood just how severely impacted their communities were.”
According to New York Magazine, though, while McKibben may not like to admit it, climate leadership for a long time has been a white person’s game, and until very recently, a men’s club too.
While women have been making in-roads lately, there is still an awful lot of white maleness dominating climate change talk.
Unfortunately, this means the face of climate change does not reflect the fact that persons of color, many from the least developed countries of the world, are the most impacted by global warming.
In the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, for example, residents are watching their tiny nations literally disappear into the sea. Yet, their desperate pleas for help often get ignored by the media and public who are more likely to associate climate change with Al Gore.
On the continent of Africa, which creates far less CO2 than America, the combination of rapid urban expansion and warming temperatures is literally threatening young children’s lives and health.
Even here in the States, those who are the least resilient to hurricanes and other changing weather patterns are often the poor and people of color.
Yet, even though the People’s Climate March worked hard to talk about diversity and recruit from underrepresented communities, the idea of spending a hot, humid Sunday marching for climate change was a hard sell in New Yorks poorer, and less-white neighborhoods.
“A lot of folks out here are so despondent, they don’t want to be bothered with anything,” New York community activist Vernell Robinson said.
Despite the lack of support, though, Robinson, who lives in a low-income and mostly minority housing project in the Rockaways, said she hoped soon, more people of color and low-income folk will join the climate change fight.
“Before I leave this earth, I want to make sure all my people know what’s going on with this issue,” she said, adding that,”On climate, Sandy was the turning point for me. It got very personal for me when we were left in the dark.”
Photo Credit: Twitter