Paul Messersmith-Glavin: Black Lives Matter and the Future of Humanity

Counterpunch, December 29, 2020

Using an intersectional, anarchist analysis we can see how racism, patriarchy, and class society are intertwined producing a society that actively is changing the climate. We can begin to untangle these relationships, digging into the history of white supremacy to see how it reinforces capitalist social relations producing the ecological crisis we confront. The Black Lives Matter movement offers us the chance, both through its critique and methods, to move closer to a society that no longer changes the climate.

If we view various forms of domination as forming a ball of twine, we can see how pulling on one string can start to unravel the whole thing. Approaching racism, patriarchy, and class exploitation, for example, as interlocking and mutually reinforcing, organizing against any one of these might begin to reveal connections and relationships to the whole. Each is a potential entryway to understanding the complexity and interconnection of contemporary hierarchies. Better comprehending these relationships offers the possibility of beginning to detangle them. In this way we can relate the movement for Black lives, for instance, to the movement for climate justice.

As with police violence, pollution disproportionately impacts Black and poor communities. For instance, a recent study found that Black people are exposed to twice the particulate matter as white people, and that Hispanics had more exposure than non-Hispanic whites. The study also found that people in poverty had more exposure than people not in poverty. That the people of Flint, Michigan, almost half of whom live in poverty, were drinking lead contaminated water is only one of the more well-known recent examples.

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