“Y’all come up with a better way, because we ain’t doin’ it.” #climate justice is social justice #Manchester

The video, if you haven’t already seen it, is unbearably powerful.  The total honesty, born of clarity and despair, is one of the most admirable, heart-breaking things you could see.

At a George Floyd protest in North Carolina , a 31 year old black man (1),   has engaged with an older black man. He brings a 16 year old into the conversation.  And his one overriding message is that the old ways have failed, that the anger continues and that if nothing is done, ten years into the future, the 16 year old will be facing the same weary frustration that he and the 45 year old have.  [If the 16 year old lives that long – the 45 year older can be heard observing that he might get killed next week.  Curtis Hayes begs the younger man to come up with a better way. His voice breaking, he explains that the older generations – his included – have not found ways that work.

It’s an astute, vehement analysis, clear-eyed of what is going wrong and what needs to be done (because nobody is going to come to save them).

We within Climate Emergency Manchester have different opinions on a lot of things.  On the following though, there is total unanimity:

  • There will be no effective response to the climate emergency if it doesn’t address systemic social and racial inequalities.
  • We already do have some better ways – we’ve just forgotten them (funny how effective grassroots activism never gets celebrated or taught in detail in the school system and mass media, eh?). Giants of the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s (often women – go figure) have already shown us many useful tools. The names of Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer should be as well-known as Malcolm X or Martin Luther King. Over the coming months – through blogging and “doing” – we hope to highlight what those people did around positive social change, and how the lessons can be applied in Manchester. We need strong, self-confident, and mutually supportive groups who can talk, learn, teach, co-ordinate with each other.
  • The lessons – of movement-building over mobilising, of education (self, mutual), of economic experimentation – are all there. The examples of tenacity and resistance – are all there.
  • Further, we believe that retweeting and occasionally interviewing people of colour and citing their work is all well and good, but it is not nearly enough.
  • We as white people need to get clued up on what good allyship looks like (it’s a core element within our Active Citizenship Toolkit) and simultaneously, “do” good allyship, accepting that we will often fail.

We want to work, here in Manchester with, learn from, and exchange knowledge, with people of colour and others (2). We have certain skills we can offer. If you think we can be of help to you, get in touch via contact@climateemergencymanchester.net  We are volunteers, which means we won’t be able to offer unlimited time. It also means we are not expecting any payment, either in cash or participation in our campaigns (though obviously folks are welcome!). 

 

BAME Manchester groups (please let us know of others – we will add)

Kids of Colour  http://kidsofcolour.com/

Northern Police Monitoring Project http://npmp.co.uk/

 

Further reading and watching for everyone, but especially/mostly for white people

Cornel West on CNN. (He namechecks Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer at the end).

The co-founder of Black Lives Matter writing in the Guardian on George Floyd

Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-6  and women as agents of change

Institutionalized Racism syllabus

Twitter thread  about race and anti-racism

100 ways white people can make life less frustrating for people of colour 

An anti-racist reading list

Umar Johnson video

Footnote 

(1) He has been identified as Curtis Hayes – https://www.instagram.com/curtis_hayesnc/?igshid=1nmmwjqr2rtsf )

(2) We debated on how long we should hold off on publishing this blog post. We didn’t want to seem opportunistic, vampiric on the wisdom and anger of people of colour who are undergoing far more horror than anyone should have to. At some point, silence becomes consent with the status quo
When (not if)  we get it wrong, please tell us – contact@climateemergencymanchester.net.

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