Forward on Climate Change Rally! (Feb 17)
After getting on that train… I traveled to a protest on Climate Change and Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline! I met up with students from Antioch University. My sister among them, I couldn’t miss out! I was also dying to get back into activism after a one-year hiatus.
The Trip Down
Getting there was easy enough. Train to bus to feet to church, final arrival 230 AM – back tired but vibrating with excitement. The dim light and short buildings of DC felt familiar and my night at the church was a great reminder of what I loved about activism – a group of people sleeping uncomfortably on the floor in a donated space gathering energy for tomorrow’s action. Hope and Beauty!
Youth Convergence Pours into Rally – 40,000 strong!
“Well… This is it. This is the last minute, in the last quarter, of the biggest most important game humanity has ever played. This is it. One thing that I know having worked in this town. The simple maxim: If you don’t fight for what you want, you deserve what you get!” – Van Jones
At the Youth Convergence run by the Sierra Club, we made signs, did climate change (oh ya!), and listened to student leaders from across the country speak about their individual campaigns. With voices raised about divestment (university investment into carbon producing energy) to environmental justice (listen, respect, and empower those that are most effected). It was wonderful to see young people finding their voice and using it.
With a rallying cry that shook the building we marched to the main event. I was ready with my own sign that said: “ Eco Justice = Racial & Gender Justice = Stop the Wars.” Self-knowledge and love can be one of the strongest agents for change (at least I think so).
It was cold but not cold enough to keep us away! With pop music floating in the air, we found a place in the crowd. Here are some of my own moments of inspiration!!
1. Power Shift! The crowd leaves too much space on stage right so under the tutelage of Reverend Yearwook of the Hip Hop Caucus, we shift our bodies to fill in the empty space. As we do this a group chants “Power Shift!” Perfection, we’re gonna shift the power of this country!
2. Reverend Yearwood leads the crowd in a chant of “Stop. Being. Chumps.”
3. Recognizing activists and communities on the front lines! For a safe demonstration, this component was extremely important to me.
4. Leaders of the First Nations in Canada and South West US Native Americans recognize the indigenous roots of DC land at the beginning of their every speech. Environmental destruction has roots in imperialism and the subsequent forcing of indigenous communities from their land. Industries like the Tar Sands perpetuate continued displacement.
5. A student from Howard speaks at the Youth Convergence about the role of racism and classism in environmental destruction. Her own call to action coming from the disregard for her community’s health in Texas. In a room of mostly white looking people with a general lack of visible discussion on issues of racism, this woman was very brave to stand up on that stage and speak truth to power – even in a room of activists!
Oh Hey Occupy!
At the beginning of the march I mentioned how I really wanted to see some puppeteers! Luckily my old friends of Occupy pulled through for me. It was the end of the march and Lady Liberty came into sight. Occupiers carried a huge sign saying “Occupy Wall Street” and “Stop the Keystone XL.” A friend from the Outreach Working Group held up a piece and I immediately ran over! Feeling a bit out of place so far, Occupy immediately cheered me up. It was a perfect entrance back into reality. DC where I first became an activist and Occupy who gave me the hope and strength to say it doesn’t end after graduation!
Connecting Climate Change with Anti-War
During the march and after a video on the Tar Sands I really got thinking about the importance of connecting the bullet train of environmental destruction and the imperial nature of war and capitalism. Some interpretation…
The development of more dirty and non-renewable energy false-solutions continue for a few reasons.
1. We have reached peak oil, causing the lack of traditional resources.
2. The growing consumption of energy in the US and abroad, which is driven by an unsustainable and material, capitalist culture that locks citizens into silence for the sake of job and social security (or fear of losing these).
3. The US “war on terror” (aka imperial terror control of resources and minds) has jeopardized US energy security. Therefore the US is looking for safer and more controllable partnerships. This leads politicians for business as usual policies to the Canadian Tar Sands, Offshore Oil Drilling, Opening up Alaska for Oil Drilling, Fracking for Natural Gas, and Mountain Top Removal.
Here are two numbers that say a lot about US government priorities? Feeding addiction and silencing solutions.
• Federal military budget was 20% of the total in 2011. Where else could it have gone?
• The US military is the largest US energy consumer at slightly more than 1%, bigger than some countries. What would happen if we added industries that make things for the military? What about how much time media, politicians, and occupied countries spend discussing and battling “the war on terror”?
Capitalism, imperialism, and white patriarchy are our biggest problems. In order to stop environmental destruction we need to stop the flow of resources and political capital towards war and big business that oppress our humanity. I do not believe one can stop climate change, without shifting our whole system.
Here’s a GREAT movie (I think). It connects front line communities with politics with activist tactics with science: Tipping Point by David Suzuki.