Celebrating our sisters: Black women leading the charge for climate justice

2023’s Black History Month theme, "celebrating our sisters” aims to highlight the significant role that Black women have played throughout history. We speak to Leandra from our grassroots network about the importance of amplifying black women’s voices.
  Published:  17 Oct 2023    |      1 minute read

Leandra Gebrakedan is a member of Walsall Friends of the Earth and she's also active in the advocacy group Mekete Tigray UK.

"The climate justice and environmental space has long been dominated by predominantly white, middle-aged male voices. This has always confused me because I see climate change as a global issue, meaning that all communities should really be on board about making changes for a greener and more sustainable future.

"Unfortunately, from what I see, this isn't the case. Environmental challenges, including climate change, affect communities of all backgrounds, yet the perspectives and experiences of marginalized groups, especially communities of colour, are often overlooked or sidelined.

Climate justice means finding solutions to the climate crisis that not only reduce emissions or protect the natural world, but that do so in a way which creates a fairer, more just and more equal world in the process. As injustice is a root cause of the climate crisis, so fighting for justice must be at the heart of the solutions. 

"According to Zambian climate activist Veronica Mulenga, Black communities are one of the communities who are “exposed to far greater environmental health hazards than white communities.” This is why our voices are essential for advocating policies and solutions, prioritising our communities that, in some cases, are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Amplifying our voices

"Black women's voices are crucial in the climate justice and environmental movement because we bring unique perspectives and experiences that can enrich the existing climate discourse and educate others on the impact and social injustices across the globe.

A group photo of people holding a Tigray flag and signs which read #StandWithTigray
West Midlands local action group members supporting #StandWithTigray
Credit: Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Walsall Friends of the Earth

"When I discussed the hidden genocide in Tigray with Walsall Friends of the Earth, the team showed me loads of support. The conversation encouraged us to collaborate on organising an event to demonstrate solidarity and support for Ethiopian immigrants in Walsall. If it weren't for me showing up at those meetings and using my voice to speak about issues of social injustice that matter to me, then the event would have never happened.

What's needed in the climate and environmental movement?

"I think there needs to be some sort of sector-wide effort to actively include Black communities in these climate and environmental spaces. 

"The Walsall Friends of the Earth group was awesome in helping me put together the solidarity event, and it got me thinking about all the other events that could shine a spotlight on global injustices and climate crises if more women like me jumped into the mix. 

"By actively including Black women within the movement, we can ensure that environmental justice becomes a reality for all rather than a privilege for some."

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