By Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.
This winter, I was arrested with Bill McKibben and other climate activists for occupying a Chase Bank near the White House — part of our “Stop the Pipeline” campaign to pressure banks to stop investing in projects that destroy the planet. Three young Black men shared the jail cell with us. They couldn’t believe it when I told them we were in there for occupying a bank.
I could read it in their faces: Why would a brother like me choose to get arrested like that?
I chose it for the same reason I chose to join the advisory board of Evergreen Action: because climate justice and racial justice are so deeply intertwined. Fossil fuel emissions are heating up our planet and polluting Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighborhoods generation after generation — while these same communities are subject to excessive policing day in and day out. Now, as wildfires consume a whole coast, communities of color bear an additional respiratory burden. Pollution, policing, wildfires, and a pandemic: They’re all keeping us from breathing free.
So we demand change, even if it means going to jail.
You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: We cannot achieve climate justice without racial justice, and we cannot achieve racial justice without climate justice.
All people deserve to drink clean water, breathe clean air, eat healthy food, and live without fear of violence. Securing these rights for ourselves and our children is a struggle we have to get right, and we can get right — by fighting for racial justice and climate justice at the same time.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.
Evergreen Advisory Board Member