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Climate Justice is Racial Justice, Racial Justice is Climate Justice

In this op-ed, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of Hip Hop Caucus explores and explains why the destruction of our planet means greater harm to Black and marginalized communities. By Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. JUN 22, 2020


When it comes to climate change, we’re inching dangerously close to the point of no return. This is what the world’s climate scientists have been saying for more than a few years. But since the problem is so vast, it’s easy to blow it off, burying your head in the sand and hoping it goes away on its own. So we wanted to offer some helpful tips on what you can do in your daily lives to put a dent in the climate change crisis. We hope to shed some light on the urgency of the problem through thoughtful deep dives that explore the systems and industry practices that exacerbate the problem and explore their social and ecological impacts. Within the series, you might also find some inspiring ways you can start to help make Earth more green and, hopefully, begin to turn back the clock on climate change. . In January of this year — before the pandemic — I was arrested for occupying a Chase bank on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. I was there with a handful of fellow activists to launch Stop The Money Pipeline, an effort to get to the root of the climate crisis — the money that props up the fossil fuel industry. Jane Fonda was outside the bank, rooting us on. Seriously.

The police didn’t rough me up (this time) before putting us into a city jail cell. My brother Bill McKibben — one of the climate movement’s most effective advocates — was locked up with me. He pointed out that the city jail is a much different place than the relatively comfortable holding rooms that the Capitol Hill police use.

We were sharing a cell with three young Black men who weren’t more than 20 years old. I was the only Black person among the climate activists, and with all the other activists being white, it was not a collection of people you typically see in Washington D.C. central booking.

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