Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to a black member of Extinction Rebellion, the movement he supports is too white.
When I look at Extinction Rebellion, all I see is white faces. That has to change
Sat 19 Oct 2019 16.00 AEDT
XR must realise its lack of diversity, middle-class image and glamorisation of arrest puts young black and brown people off.
Some Extinction Rebellion activists present climate warming as a disaster waiting to happen. But for my cousins in the global south, the dystopian future has already arrived. A staggering 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing hunger caused by low rainfall. Deadly tropical diseases are spreading more easily as the climate warms, and 780,000 people a year are dying in Africa because of air pollution. But for many black inner-city teenagers like me, the climate change movement conjures up nothing but apathy. Last week, beneath the cloudy skies of north-west London, I asked some of my comprehensive school classmates what they thought about Extinction Rebellion. One answered flatly: “What’s that?”
The short, frank answer is that the tactics of Extinction Rebellion are designed by and for middle-class, white Britain. Their central rhetoric about a dystopian future fails to cut through for those of us already faced with a nightmarish present, surrounded by poverty and austerity.
Meanwhile, the tactic of being purposely arrested strikes an uncomfortable note for many people of colour, given the adverse experiences people in my community have had with the police. The climate movement’s failure to stand in solidarity with our political struggles adds to this sense of disconnect.
One friend of mine was stop-and-searched by the police 12 times last year. When I told him that the Extinction Rebellion protesters were purposefully getting themselves arrested, he rolled his eyes in sheer irritation. “That’s not an option for black people,” he said, adding that if he was arrested, the police would undoubtedly treat him differently, and his future career prospects might also be destroyed. The tactic of deliberately seeking arrest has further alienated disenfranchised communities like mine who, across generations, have had bad experiences with the police.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/19/extinction-rebellion-white-faces-diversity
Athian might be right that climate activism is mostly a club for rich white kids, but I suspect the apathy is a lot more widespread than Athian realises. There are plenty of white people who think the climate crisis is a joke.