“It’s 2020. Enough is enough.”

These words were spoken last week by the brother of George Floyd during a House hearing, as he called on Congress to do more — to make sure his brother does not become just another name on a list that won’t stop growing.

Enough is enough. These words emerge from the tsunami of global protests against police violence, a collective response to the murder of yet another Black man at the hands of police. All the tear gas in the world will not be enough to dampen the growing cries for justice. Not this time.

Greenpeace will not stay silent in the face of systemic injustice.

Over the last two weeks, we have been amplifying Black and Indigenous voices on our social media channels as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities in Canada speak out about how here too, we have a list of names that won’t stop growing. Regis Korchinski-Paquet. Chantal Moore. D’Andre Campbell. Rodney Levi. All the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Canada must confront the reality of its own history, steeped in racial violence and inequality. 

Some of what we’ve shared has highlighted the connections between systemic racism and environmental destruction, as these two issues are deeply intertwined; but much of it hasn’t had anything to do with those connections at all. And there’s a reason for that: we don’t care about systemic racism only because it’s an environmental issue. We care about it because it is critical in and of itself. 

Reading supporter messages, I know that many of you feel the same way and have yourselves been involved in the struggle for racial justice for years. But a number of people have been critical, and are wondering why an environmental organization is saying anything at all about racial injustice:

“What the hell does this have to do with the environment or the climate crisis????” one person commented. “Stay focused on the environment,” said another. “Do they even remember what their cause is?”

The tenor of these comments is not unfamiliar. We heard similar feedback when we spoke out about the Syrian refugee crisis, for example, or when we supported the Wet’suwet’en Nation in their fight for recognition of land title rights. The implication is always that for Greenpeace to talk about human rights, justice, or systemic racism is mission creep. It’s someone else’s job. It’s not what we’re supposed to be about. 

But here’s the thing: it is what we’re about. I used to think of Greenpeace more as an issues-driven organization — but over the years I’ve realized that our values lead us to the issues we work on, not the other way around. 

Humanity, courage, compassion, justice  these are the values on which the organization was founded. These are the values through which our staff remain connected to each other and to their work. These are the values that ensure the “peace” in our name is not lost.

At the root of the work our community does, the unifying thread is this: we need to dismantle the systems that exploit people and the planet, and a core part of that is the fight for justice. As we call for a green and just recovery from the coronavirus crisis, we recognize the green and peaceful future we need can’t exist as long as the systems of white supremacy, colonialism and privilege continue to destroy the environment and strip BIPOC communities of their dignity — and, far too often, their lives and their loved ones.

If you’re like me and my friends, you may be looking for ways to take action and become an accomplice in the fight for racial justice. Following the lead of Black and Indigenous-led community groups, we have compiled a list of petitions from a range of activists and organizations you can take action with. Join them in their calls to invest in communities and divest from policing.

This isn’t someone else’s job — it’s up to all of us. We must be unified as a movement for justice — racial justice, environmental justice, economic justice, social justice — everywhere, for as long as it takes. Political representatives know that even a handful of votes can turn an election against them, and they need to hear from us now. Those who are raising their voices in the US have already begun turning the tide in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protest works. 

So raise your voice and let your elected representatives know we want to end violent policing and invest in programs and policies that create a healthy, safe and just world. For everyone.

We speak out because it is essential, it is right, and because we have a voice. 

We speak out because enough is enough — no more Black and Indigenous lives lost. 

Thank you for joining our call for justice, and for being part of Greenpeace’s work.

Christy

Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada

PS: for those of you looking to deepen your engagement with anti-racism work, we’ve put together an Anti-racist Toolkit for Environmentalists. You can explore it here.

Black Lives Matter Protest in Washington DC. © Tim Aubry / Greenpeace
© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

Saihanba Wind Farm in Inner Mongolia. © Simon Lim / Greenpeace
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