Today's post is outsourced to Brendan Mock who writes regularly about environmental justice issues at Grist.
... social justice groups of many stripes converged to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. That was the courageous campaign carried out by black and white youth to get African Americans registered to vote under hostile Jim Crow laws. There, during an assembly titled “Climate Change and Environmental Justice: How Did We Get Here?,” attendees got an earful from Turkey Creek historian and activist Derrick Evans. He is the lead character featured in the documentary “Come Hell or High Water,” the story of how Mississippi attempted to erase the historically black Turkey Creek community to build shopping centers.
Addressing the Assembly, Evans explained how preserving Turkey Creek meant more than just upholding the Civil Rights Act, or any one law. Instead, the community had to converge a variety of civil society’s custodians — Sierra Club activists, Audubon Society bird watchers, Nature Conservancy conservationists, state wildlife biologists, faith leaders of black and white churches, civil rights lawyers, historic preservation officers — to protect it from reckless developers. This is where environmentalists found that they had more in common with social justice advocates, and vice versa, than initially recognized.
This starts a little slowly, but he sure gets going:
"... We get ahead of the curve. ....We never deal with it ... that big energy and the rest of them, they own legislatures, they own television stations, they own agencies ... You can't compete with that. I wouldn't try. .. what do we have access to that they can't possibly use? ... It's like using a tennis racket against the Williams sisters! It ain't gonna work! ...The one thing we do have that they don't is real people, in real places, with real stories... that school children can connect to ..."
This San Francisco purveyor of graffiti has it right. When times are bleak -- when country and planet sink under the barely restrained sway of greed, raw power, and fear -- it's time to restate what matters.
I write here to preserve and kindle hope for a national and global turn toward multi-racial, economically egalitarian, gender non-constricting, woman affirming, and peace choosing democracy that preserves the habitability of earth for all. There's a big order -- but what else is there to do but struggle for this? Not much.
Topics range from the minuscule to the transcendent to the global, from dire to delightful. I am not an optimist, but I refuse to allow myself to wallow within the easy bias that everything is going to always be awful. Good also happens; love lives too.
I've been yammering here about activism, politics, history, racism and other occasional horrors and pleasures since 2005. I intend to continue as long as the opportunity exists. In this time, that means activism and chronicling resistance. Perhaps it always has, one way and another.
I'm a progressive political activist who runs trails and climbs mountains whenever any are available. I've had the privilege to work for justice in Central America (Nicaragua and El Salvador), in South Africa, in the fields of California with the United Farmworkers Union, and in the cities and schools of my own country. I'm a Christian of the Episcopalian flavor; we think and argue a lot. For work, I've done a bit of it all: run an old fashioned switch-board; remodeled buildings and poured concrete; edited and published periodicals, reports and books; and organized for electoral campaigns. Will work for justice.