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"Dear privileged people, you have responsibilities too" By Claire Kaneshiro

Dear privileged people, you have responsibilities too.

Dear privileged people, Did you know that the global richest 10% are responsible for 50% of (lifestyle consumption) carbon emissions?Did you know that only roughly $ 7,500 (USD) in monthly income puts you global 10%? ​ Welcome to classism, the consequence of modern capitalism.

Did you know that fine particulate matter pollution is attributed to 3% of deaths in the United States? Did you know that the exposure of African Americans to fine particulate matter pollution is 21% greater than the overall US population average? This is the outcome of systemic racism built into the infrastructure of our cities.

Did you know that 80% of individuals displaced by climate change are women? This a product of patriarchy. Did you know that indigenous peoples continue to lose land autonomy to unsustainable commercial ventures? This is the reverberation of colonialism. No, I stand corrected. This is the perpetuation of colonialism.

Privilege, based on race/ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status, is a significant determinant in your contribution to climate change and the magnitude of impact on you.

The wealthiest, who exploit indigenous lands in profit-seeking fossil fuel ventures considered “essential businesses”, can afford to escape the worst air, water, and soil pollution. This is a privilege. The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) people, forced to live in disproportionately close proximity to hazardous waste plants, destructive mining pursuits, and unstable fossil fuel infrastructure, will suffer the greatest fallout from our negligence

Are you privileged? Is your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and ability are making your life harder? Are you a cisgender straight white male? Do you prosper within the systems of patriarchy, racism, capitalism, colonialism, anti-Semitism, and ableism? But just because you benefit from the system of oppression, does not mean you must be complacent in its perpetuation.

Are you privileged? I am a mixed-race Asian-American but, with my light skin, sandy brown hair, and hazel eyes, I still benefit from white privilege. My family is financially stable in this time of economic turmoil. Though I am a woman, I am fortunate to live in a community that provides me with equal opportunities in education. I am able-bodied. I am a US citizen. In other words, I am privileged.

You too must critically reflect on yourself. Are you privileged?

Now, we must stay home, but we can’t stay silent. Social distancing and climate action are NOT mutually exclusive. You are not forced into complacency by shelter and place. Activism can, and will, persevere. Together we must act on the climate crisis that we helped create.

Next week, on April 22nd, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This marks 50 years of complacency by governments and pollution by corporations. Now, as we watch helplessly as the Senate passes business-relief that uplifts fossil fuels, over the future of our public health. Now, more than ever before, we must unify to demand nationwide intersectional climate action.

You, who are privileged, do not get a gold star for reading a progressive article. Learn. Listen. Then, act. Provide resources, not answers. The world does not need another white savior.

Elevate the voices of the people on the front lines of environmental injustice. Join a youth-led Earth Day digital strike. Learn from a Zero Hour Webinar. Talk climate with your elected officials. Be a changemaker.

The 50 years of inaction must end now.

Claire Kaneshiro is a Japanese-American social activist and high school student from Indianapolis. 1. https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2019/jul/04/just-1-in-10-workers-earn-ha lf-of-all-global-wages-survey-finds 2. https://www-cdn.oxfam.org/s3fs-public/file_attachments/mb-extreme-carbon-ine quality-021215-en.pdf 3. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/13/6001 4. https://twitter.com/UNDP/status/1121507679782961154 5. https://apnews.com/89e3f21d344db86b8743665ea66b892c 6. https://news.umich.edu/targeting-minority-low-income-neighborhoods-for-hazar dous-waste-sites/


*This article is not in direct affiliation with YCA.

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