There is a person in my life with whom I share many values, but he consistently dismisses race and gender as things about which he ought to be concerned. Because he doesn’t consider himself to hold racist beliefs, he doesn’t understand why we’ve all been talking about race when we really ought to be focused on climate change. Since I am a known radical, he has largely dismissed my insistence that climate change can’t be solved without also dismantling patriarchy and white supremacy. While my constant use of phrases like “dismantle systems that uphold white supremacy” and “gender is a social construct” elicited anything from rolled eyes to indulgent chuckles, I had created a tiny crack in his assurance that there is no vast white male conspiracy to control the world. The turning point came in the aftermath of January 6th when he started to see for himself the relationship between racism and the erosion of voting rights. Without the right to vote, there is no way to pressure elected officials into caring about the health of the planet. He began to consider that I might not just be an over educated nutter.
During this period of open mindedness, I have been reading Leah Thomas’ The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet and sharing information and thoughts with him. I’ve been able to introduce both of us to BIPOC environmental activists. While he will probably never understand what I mean when I say gender isn’t real, we’ve had some very good conversations about the intersections of racism and environmental policy. Reading Leah Thomas’ book has helped me articulate more clearly my belief that saving the planet cannot be separated from dismantling systems of oppression.
The Intersectional Environmentalist gave me a much better understanding of the scope of intersectional environmentalism, and how I can be more intersectional in my advocacy and work. Thomas brings in her own experience and perspective, and reaches out to bring in the voices of activists from other BIPOC and queer communities. In addition to bringing in multiple voices and viewpoints, Thomas also provides an expansive tool kit with resources to learn more about specific issues and communities.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.