Day 2 – Environmental Justice & Global Majority Panel Discussion

This posting is a draft — I needed to unload some info to start, but have details abound.  If only time had I.

Facilitator:
Jim Driscoll of NIPSPeerSupport.org

Phenomenal guest speakers included:
Kwazi Nkrumah – Co-coordinator, Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA;  Arnie Sakai – Coordinator, Moana Nui Action Alliance (who facilitated our camping stay, amazing meal, and a ukulele performance just for us for March 2nd in Alhambra)

Marcher Speakers included:
Micheal Zambrano of California; Jimmy Betts of Nebraska/Iowa
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Without breaking confidentiality agreements, some highlights included respecting communities to which we do not belong that we will experience throughout our journey — being aware of the things we say from our individual limited experience.  Learning to listen better and connect to the person, not simply the culturally, personally, ignorantly imposed container.

Another point covered was the 2007 Free Prior and Informed Consent as being important for interacting with all peoples… all people are our people, after all.   Specifically, Implementing Universal Standards:

  • The right to free, prior and informed consent is enshrined in the International Labour Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169–which only 22 countries have ratified to date) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 32), which states:
    1. Indigenous Peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
    2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
    3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
  • The final study on Indigenous Peoples and the right to participate in decision-making by the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gives advice on consultations and on the implementation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).The element of “free” implies no coercion, intimidation or manipulation; “prior” implies that consent is obtained in advance of the activity associated with the decision being made, and includes the time necessary to allow indigenous peoples to undertake their own decision-making processes; “informed” implies that indigenous peoples have been provided all information relating to the activity and that that information is objective, accurate and presented in a manner and form understandable to indigenous peoples; “consent” implies that indigenous peoples have agreed to the activity that is the subject of the relevant decision, which may also be subject to conditions.”

A final, parting comment that brought many of us to emotional outlet was the simple fact that we did the unthinkable — starting from Wilmington, CA (not the nearby affluent, predominantly upper-income, ‘white’ Santa Monica), a marginalized, neglected community of the working poor and the global majority (communities of all colors).  There has NEVER been an environmental/climate change organization that has transcended racial/demographic, though societally-implied boundaries, in such a public, inclusive, and altruistic way.

Feelings of pride for our collective humanity in that moment brought me to tears…  Feelings of sadness and despair regarding our current state of ‘accepted’ divisions, discrimination, and simple unawareness brought deep, aquiferous tears.  Much of my thoughts and emotions over the past 2 months have been torn between such emotions as my experience with them is that of both a perpetual outsider and an effectual global citizens* (I define this as all people of Planet Earth, not simply well-traveled persons in the more modern sense).  We are all global citizens… should that not be enough to inspire us to come together to benefit our source of life, our source of history, our source of everything we know (and don’t) know of our physical reality?

For me, I believe that those who think themselves the least prejudiced are in the most danger of inadvertent racism.  Let’s also assume this is not simply an issue of race, but also gender, class, and all -isms.  This comes from my own personal experience as a cultural chameleon, one who does not necessarily have a “fit” in the cultures to whom he finds himself, but always feels connected from within.  Perhaps this is the ongoing cultivation of self-realization, perhaps this is conditioning out of necessity created through travel, awkwardness, and generally genial lifestyle choices?

Even reflecting on this profound discussion of revelation leaves me bleary-eyed and at a loss for verbal explanation.  This conversation has since started group discussion teams that include more than half of our current Marcher population.  The Great March for Climate Action is not only a global survival movement, but also a Great Unification Movement for all of humanity.
Infinite Gratitude to all those present and those who have yet be awakened to these difficult, but ultimately liberating and

My people — Your people — are Our People.  It’s a matter of reminding ourselves and actively dismantling the abusive stratifications we have allowed to develop in our collective slumber.

One thought on “Day 2 – Environmental Justice & Global Majority Panel Discussion”

  1. Jimmy,

    This post was really touching for me. My high school was as diverse as a sugar cookie, and now that I am in college I am surrounded by diversity in a way I never have before. In my first year of college I’ve been introduced to so many walks of life I never knew of or considered before, and it has broadened my horizons immensely and taught me so much about what it means to be a global citizen. I’m actually taking a class right now on global citizenship, an honors class called International Scholarly Conversation.

    I don’t consider myself to be prejudiced, but the problem within that is the idea of misconceptions — we can be prejudiced without realizing that we are because of how we’ve been raised and what we’ve been taught about other people that we accepted as fact.

    I eagerly look forward to seeing how participating in the Climate March for six months will alter my view on the world and my fellow humans.

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