A statement written collaboratively by the Transition Network team…
The Transition Network team stands in solidarity with Black people in the US and those all across the world who are calling for an end to structural racism and racist violence. We acknowledge our responsibility to speak out against racism and actively work to dismantle it, all of the time not only in this moment.
Structural racism and racist violence exists in all the countries where our movement works towards Transition – from São Paulo to Brixton, Brussels to Greyton. The Transition for which everyone is working can only happen, will only be meaningful, if it is a Just Transition for everyone. The struggles for climate justice and racial justice are the same struggle.
For most of us, in our largely white staff team, racist oppression is not a daily reality or a defining life experience. All of us benefit from privileges which derive directly from the oppression of others.
The Transition movement has been criticised for being predominantly white and middle class. This has considerable truth, though the reality is complex. There is much more we can and must do to become a movement which actively supports social justice and amplifies the work of Black and brown communities striving to create a safe, resilient and regenerative future for all people. And more we can and must do to bring clearer focus to the huge shifts urgently required of the Global North if we are to deliver anything remotely resembling climate justice for Black and brown communities in the Global South.
Pandora Thomas, former Board member of Transition US and co-founder of the Black Permaculture Network (among other things) recently wrote:
“We (black and brown folks and many whites who have been stepping up and other POC) are tired. [We want white people]... not to ask us what to do as we will say the same things we have been saying, but actually start to do it. Divest from racist companies, return land back to indigenous folks and over to black folks, communicate with whomever they know who they think has some power over the decisions made around our courts and policing to shift the policies and stop the killing (and hold the murderers accountable even as we hold the slightest bit of prayers for their healing), stop leaving it up to us to tell them what to do and read, study and learn what whites have done in the past to change their own situations and make the commitment that they won't rest until all black folks are free and not having to fight telling folks we are human (knowing that that will mean all others are free).”
As she says, it is up to those of us who are white Transitioners to educate ourselves, to have the conversations that matter. To read some of the many brilliant books on white privilege and white fragility and explore how each of us contributes to, and benefits from, racism. To be searingly honest, to listen and examine ourselves with humility, sit with the grief, guilt and pain that surfaces and move through that to action. It must not be left to people of colour to fight this fight, or to constantly have to explain it to us. It needs to be our fight too, our commitment to understanding and learning.
Following #BlackLivesMatter on social media or visiting the Black Lives Matter website is a good place to start for those seeking more information. We encourage you to find and support Black-led organisations working to address structural racism and racist violence in the place where you live. And below we share some of the books, articles and videos that the Transition team have found useful and inspiring.
When Transition Network staff and trustees got together in January 2020 to review our work and agree our Areas of Focus for the coming year, we made a careful collective decision to make social justice as well as environmental justice more explicitly central to our work. We hope you have already seen evidence of that in our activities and communications. We plan to share more in the coming months about what we are doing and why, and we will invite feedback, suggestions and challenge. Please hold us to account and help us shape this important work.
As we finished drafting this piece, our friends at Transition US published this statement. As part of their list of suggested actions, they encourage us to engage in courageous conversations and ask the following:
- What can you do to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in your community?
- What local policies can you support to help end police brutality?
- How do you plan to help end racial discrimination and systemic oppression?
- What do you need to learn more about?
Feels like a good next step to us – not just in the US, but everywhere.
What the TN team has been watching, reading and listening to:
The Climate Movement's Silence
Article about anti-black racism in climate activism.
"We are witnessing America as a failed social experiment" - Dr Cornell West Full CNN Segment
Documentary exploring the context and media framing of the 2011 riots in the UK.
Systemic Racism Explained
Great graphic explaining structural racism (in this case, in the US context) clearly and powerfully.
Listen to Clara Amfo’s powerful message on racism following George Floyd’s death
Clara Amfo (UK radio DJ) making a powerful and moving statement about how the murder of George Floyd had impacted on her.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism: Robin DiAngelo
Really helpful analysis of how fearful, wounded and angry white reactions shut down vital discussions about racism.
The 1619 Project
Pulitzer Prize winning series by Nikole Hannah-Jones – a history of slavery in North America.
Seeing White: Transformation
Fascinating podcast series about the origins of the dehumanizing construct of race.
The Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness Podcast: Sydney Spears
Podcast discussing the role mindfulness and compassion can play in helping heal trauma and oppression; the relationship between trauma and social oppression; and how to skillfully navigate multiracial spaces as a leader in contemplative settings.
Resmaa Menakem - ’Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence’
Podcast with Resmaa Menakem talking about his book ‘My Grandmother’s Hands’ and his work on racialised trauma and how it plays out in different bodies and communities.
10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship
Helpful article on what it means to be a real rather than an ‘optical’ ally. From what may seem an unlikely source!
Why Talk About Whiteness
Exploring what it means to be white.