Let’s have a provocative post – DJ Khaled voice “and another one”. Let’s explore the similarities between discrimination and climate change. Yes, I know… weird parallel. What do both have in common? That’s what we are here to discuss :).
First, let’s me tell you where this idea came from:
- It was when watching the movie Dunkirk. For the non-initiated, that movie is about trapped Allied troops (the good side) on the beaches of Dunkirk. Troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.
- Secondly, I heard an environmentalist explain how Global Warming is similar to Dunkirk. Because just like in this historical moment, we need to face the reality that we may be beyond the point of no return, and we need another approach to win still.
Hearing all this, I could not help to find similarities between discrimination and climate change:
- It is more convenient to pretend it does not exist. The extraction/refining of fossil fuels, which significantly impacts climate change, created some enormous fortunes in the world. Think Rockefellers, the Saudi Royal families, and even nations such as Iran or Russia. With the wealthiest people and nations around the globe benefiting directly from fossil fuels, it is more convenient to downplay climate change. The same goes for discrimination, so many Western countries (and their elites) built wealth on the enslavement of Black people, and through colonialism, it is convenient to downplay its role and the residual effects of systemic discrimination. They even go as far as trying not to include it in school curriculums.
- Smartasses try to pick a specific example to argue against climate change and systemic discrimination. When people say to me, “look you have “made it”, systemic discrimination does not exist”. It sounds like “look today was a colder day in the middle of summer, Global Warming is fake news”. This is plain and simply an absurd argument.
- What the most active people do, barely move the needle. At the current pace, it is like we are driving at 160 mph into an environmental disaster. When I sort my trash, eat less meat, and use public transportation, I reduce my speed from 160 mph to 155mph. It counts but barely makes a dent in climate change. Marching once or twice a year for BLM, sharing a few posts here and there for DEI, or reading a book on how to be a better ally is similar to decreasing your speed from 160mph to 155mph. It is good but does not make a dent in systemic discrimination.
Keeping things the way they are is convenient. Even if it is terrible, we know we can live with it. So that makes it less horrific in our minds. Let’s not downplay small incremental changes. I believe that becoming 1% better every day is the best way to become great!
But there are moments, like in Dunkirk, where we should not seek convenience. There are moments when we should stop everything we do, and force changes. What will be the Dunkirk moment for Climate Change? What will be the Dunkirk moment for Systemic Discrimination? Is it already there and people do not see it?