Tag Archives: climate justice

I accept white privilege

The hidden danger of saying “I accept white privilege”

I was at Seattle Poetry Slam last night. A slam isn’t a poetry reading, it’s a live performance of spoken word combining the best of alliteration, syncopation, meter, and emotion to shed light on truths we know but don’t hear.

In “Death of the Central District”, Ela Barton spoke of how gentrification forced people out. She spoke of friends forced to move too far for them to be friends anymore. And she spoke of a posse of 15 white people in the street, streets that used to be places you wouldn’t allow your kids to go to after 6 PM, in skinny shorts running “like they run our streets.”

It seems white privilege is the latest hot topic every liberal proudly rushes to admit exists. But if white privilege exists, if institutionalized racism exists, that means people of color who you see, are resilient. Somehow they found a way to stick around despite every institution and economic force synchronizing to move them out of the way for centuries. They mastered living resilient lives. They stuck around and wove a path that let them rise to take the stage and be visible in organizations.

Today scientist tout resilience as the solution to our communities and the path forward for sustainable ecosystems. They study the numbers and statistics and draw inferences from plants, insects, and monkeys living in rain forests and other exotic places. And they gleaned insights from these special places where plants and tiny creatures wove a path to do amazing things.

It’d seem that building resilient communities, that can survive climate threats, will require leadership with experience beyond book learning from plants and animals thousands of miles away. It will require leaders who know how to live resilient lives.

And there in lies the danger, we don’t have a common lexicon for this.   And that’s why I help organize events like Resilience at the Crossroads of Race and Climate Justice featuring Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP National Director of Environmental and Climate Justice.