Did you know that Extinction Rebellion USA has 4 demands not 3?
“We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a liveable, just planet for all.”
That is the response and addition of an organisation aware of the social stratification a history of overt infrastructural racism and colonialism has brought.
In the UK, it didn’t take long for people notice the lack of people of colour at XR actions, I joked myself that is was twenty four hours of watching before I saw the XR feed shared a image of someone who wasn’t white, even from within XR there were people tweeting about being a little more self aware and maybe stop sharing all the pictures of white dudes in suits getting arrested? Ok, Sure they held a talk on de-colonisation and shared videos from Ghana (two fo the core team are from Ghana and helped build relations there) but there is a huge noticeable gap and tho it’s not quite as bad as your standard SWPPIE stall it’s there. It’s covered very well this piece in Gal-Dem and one of the sections of note for me is this qoute;
“We have spent time critiquing, challenging, and pushing the climate movement,” Alex explains. “Some really great stuff has come out of that. For example, the Stansted 15 [15 activists who successfully grounded a mass deportation charter flight in 2017 by locking themselves in front of the aircraft’s wheel] came from an environment background and used the tactics of climate justice campaigning for a different purpose. Extinction Rebellion are just ignoring all of that, and starting from square one again.”
Tho the core group isn’t composed entirely of white faces, the political hub is very distinctly of the “white liberal middle class” branch of the tree and this permiates thoughout the entire organisational attitude.
This appeal to certain demographics isn’t by accident.
There is this pressure from the core philosophy to be “civilised” and show “discipline”, that for some reason in Britain we should act proper and caste aside the next to barbarian violence, which the make shift politburo at the top has decided includes resisting arrest or defending yourself and thoseothers… It’s a carte blanche policy ignoring the world we live in. It filters down to the street, it ends up with situations like everyone standing by and doing nothing as a young black women passing by who wanted to get past the police line is chucked down to the ground – in scenes reminiscent of Ian Tomlinsons death, blokes in trackies also being on the acceptable to shove to the ground list – only to be arrest by the police… The footage is pretty grim.
The police de-arrested her after giving her a talking to and sent her packing… XR initially said “she wasn’t inducted..” and pretty much shrugged their shoulders, tho they took this back and their admin apologised and acknowledged that they were somewhat unaware of the racial element that is very much a part of this interaction. XR later released a statement saying they had set up working group to de-escalate such situations and that they were improving – they also started sharing a lot more POC and Indigenous media on their social media, in part I suppose the address the articles highlighting the lack of people of colour.
However the next day XR folk actively supported police in running immigration checks on two men they had accused of being pickpockets, as I spoke about in the police section.
The story was relayed to us by Sam Swann (@samgswann) who took to twitter furious just after…
“Some @ExtinctionR people got the police involved, accusing a couple of young men of pickpocketing. They have just been searched by police who found nothing. Now the police are doing an immigration check on them. Potential deportation for at worst some petty theft. Well done XR. “
After stepping in, he’s pulled aside by one of the XR folk and given a grilling with anecdotes of fraud and “what if it was your mums valuable?”, as a third guy comes up and talks to the first two in another language, this is enough for the police to start looking into his immigrations status.
XR people did nothing to support them, eventually the police walking them off, thankfully to be seen later going about their business.
Can you blame an entire organisation of ever spiralling scale for the actions of a few? Perhaps not. Then again this organisation “inducts” people and trains them up, it constantly harks on about it’s policies and it’s methods of behaviour. A week into near constant assemblies and no one thought to talk about not fucking letting the cops do immigration checks on people?
This goes back to before the 15th…. it’s within the basic policy of what XR is.
More than one organiser who has subsequently left XR has shared info about the lack of willingness to make over statements opposing Transphobia or Fascism, when folk have tried to call core organisers out on transphobia they have been censored and told “not to start a terf war”. When one activist shared a call to smash fascism a local XR organiser called them to tell them off!
When people have made direct enquiries to co-ordinators such as P.E. (Who manages the South West, who takes £800 to answer emails) they were given wishy washy replies that amounted to “higher ups are dealing with it” and didn’t even include condemning transphobia as a stated position of XR. Which although I’m sure there is some policy and lip service solidarity written down and heck we can tap on the Rebel Agreement’s “We show respect to everyone” but that attitude is a neutral one… Sure we respect trans people… we also respect people who share transphobic links. It’s the punk who demand neutrality and let the right wing in, it’s Nintendo banning Trans Flags in Smash Bros and Paypal freezing Sabcat’s account because they print Antifa T-shirts.
It’s seems that more than one local network has an issue with higher ups in the chain enforcing a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regards to these issues. Why? Because if they put out a strong statement of solidarity it would alienate the base, suddenly it’s not just about the environment now people have to decide how they feel about the trans community or what they think about all the Roma. There is nothing they fear more than a split in the group because it turns out some of them support Mayday 4 Women or agree with Tommy Bobinson.
Well you know what? If you are talking part in a political action your solidarity with the oppressed needs to be none conditional and overt. It doesn’t have to be the focus of the group but them you neglect to provide these narratives you wilfully build a space that is dangerous for oppressed and minority communities.
This is not acceptable.
XR groups need to sort that shit out.
Develop an understanding of the issues that your POC comrades (and indeed wider community) face and develop solutions. Make your solidarity with oppressed and minority communities vocal and fucking practice it.
Step in the way when you see the cops harassing someone.
These are not the good guys and they are feeding the divide in our society
This is before we even get onto the not so subtle racism often parroted in “there are too many people” that oh so many XR people parrot and heck even Chris Packham believes it… You know who gets culled first in efforts to control the population? Coz it sure as shit ain’t white middle class babas. This idea of comes from a whole lot of anti working class and overtly racist patter thats been around for ever… “Chinese/Irish/Blacks breed like rabits” and reflect this incredably dark narrative that the hoards of refugees are here to ruin our green and pleasent land. Take a quick look to the Mexican/American border for understanding of how the western world treats climate refugees with dark faces.
There is a deep fear of the “excess humanity” of the “savages” banging at the gats of Britannia and indeed Fortress Europe, this is why eco-fascism is one of the largest growing movemenmts and when we tolerate people talking about “over population” we are allowing dog whistles for this trash. Stand up to it.
Climate movements need to acknowledge these things and be highly vocal in opposition to racism and bigotry however it displays itself.
We don’t exchange ethics for numbers at the demo.