It was very clear going into Paris that the negotiations will never fully benefit or protect our communities. The past 500 years has been testimony of the trajectory of colonization. And as long as colonialism thrives in the economy any treaty, agreement, negotiation whatever you name it will not be made in our name. Along with 100+ people from Canada and the United States, the It Takes Roots delegation, comprised of Grassroots Global Justice, the Climate Justice Alliance and the Indigenous Environmental Network, brought solutions from communities facing environmental destruction and a slew of other issues caused by the capitalist, extractive economy. People already developing alternative plans around health, economy, education and environment through cooperatives, sustainable agriculture
The San Antonio Delegation from Fuerza Unida and Southwest Workers Union realized that in order for the Paris trip to be a success we needed to bring it home. If our family at home did not know why we were there and understood the necessity of challenging the structure and in return providing solutions then we could not come back and continue our work.
On November 24th, Fuerza Unida and SWU held the first of two panels titled Womyn, Gender and Climate Change. Here stories of how patriarchy has caused the stripping of culture, the institutional commodification of womyn and the destruction of a healthy, safe, self determinate communities were shared. But what was also shared are the traditional solutions of our abuelas and abuelos that healed us growing up. The end analysis is that womyn are mother earth, our cycles are synced and womyn’s body composition mimics that of the elements that make up the earth. Towards the end two questions were asked that shifted the discussion. “What is the relationship between migration and climate change?” and “What is the role of LGBTQI communities in climate change?”
Issac Garcia from RAIZ/Planned Parenthood answered the latter. He said by isolating the queer and trans community we are only isolating our own movement. Trans people of color are being murdered on the streets and isolated by our own community. How can we reach true justice without fully including gender and reproductive issues?
The first question around migration brought the conversation together into a discussion that was a story sharing session between youth, elders and everyone in between. From butterflies to workers to indigenous practice to farmers to Syria to the migration of chemicals in the body/Mother Earth to racism and detention centers . . . Everything Is Related. What I learned is that our communities on the ground, the abuelas, and mothers, students, teachers, organizers are making those connection and we are the ones building a just transition.
To fully understand why migration opened up the flow of connection we must look back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 when the United States created a border between Mexico and the US causing the division of families and the criminalization of Latino people. Since then every US president has increase funding for the wall, created a system of private detention facilities for women and children and support the creation of policy that allows farmers to murder migrants on their property without penalty. And looking beyond the treaty there was a structure of conquest that stripped native culture and enslaved black and brown bodies.
People from the Southwest understand migration as a human right, natural to every human as it is to animals and insects. We flow between English and Spanish with ease never fully speaking either perfectly. We use local plants, music and food to heal. People cross the river to be with their family without barriers. Climate change exacerbates the natural barriers people have to cross in the name of a better life, and when they do they are faced with exposure to toxic chemicals, wage theft and displacement, therefore, migration and the climate agreements go hand in hand. The detention center action on December 9th brought those stories together into one struggle for dignity and justice. Without an agreement that will reducing emissions to a safe level of 1.5 rather than a goal of 2.0. Our people will continue to be exposed to harmful toxins and suffer the worst from extreme weather in addition to the cumulative effects of a flawed education, food and economic system.
The negotiations in Paris fail to identify true solutions for addressing climate change and saving Mother Earth. Instead they identify the best ways to commercialize nature. The Paris accord is based on a carbon market that allows the riches countries to continue business while using land grabs and trading schemes to offset their carbon emissions. In addition the Obama administration sees the Clean Power Plan as the golden ticket while coercing other countries to follow suit when the plan allows for maximum greenwashing. Ultimately at the expense of human rights and Indigenous Peoples.
Why was Paris a critical point in the climate justice movement? It allowed communities with real solutions to come together and challenge business as usual calling on systems change not climate changing. The next few years need strong, rooted and fiercer leaders to fight against gentrification and the commercialization of nature and to ensure the implementation of true solutions for our people and the planet.
** Thank you to all the gente who supported through donations and those that shared our stories from Paris. Thank You to all the wonderful organizers and members who shared knowledge at Fuerza Unida on Nov. 24th and those that came out to the Drag Show and the Loteria. Mucho Amor y Fuerza!