Those in favour of avoiding responsibility, those who profit from the current, unsustainable status quo are lashing out; doing everything in their power to discredit her and her cause. They're arseholes, attacking a sixteen year old girl with enough vitriol to mimic a nest of spitting cobras.
She's right. She's fighting for her very life, for the life of the planet, and the futures of all our children. Something needs to be done.
The adults are doing nothing, so she, and those who stood up during strike, felt they needed to do something themselves. They shouldn't have to. This is not something children should be worried about.
But here we are.
Ms. Thunberg has also been garnering a great deal of praise and support, not just from children, but from a wide variety of people, many of whom note that a good many famous women in history were Greta's age when they performed their mighty feats (Joan D'Arc, for example). She deserves this praise.
I also, however, want to point something out that I didn't even think of it until someone mentioned it in a comment beneath one of the many articles circulating around about Ms. Thunberg.
Indigenous youth have been doing this work for a long, long time. They, unfortunately, have been largely ignored, garnering plenty of hate, but almost none of the praise.
It's not difficult to guess why.
I know it's hard to hear about. You don't want to think that maybe you might be caught up in that nasty word. But here's the thing, we live in a world shaped by our histories, and white folk, we are (albeit unconsciously) racist as fuck. I am thoroughly ashamed that I didn't give a thought to the indigenous activists, despite being vaguely aware that they were there and working, this past week when Greta Thunberg became such a prominent figure. Reading that one comment shook me.
I, probably like you, prided myself on being open and,well, not a bigot, and yet, here I was, ignoring the vital, difficult work of indigenous activists in favour of a white voice.
Well, you might argue, they didn't inspire an entire movement. You're right. They didn't. But it's damned near impossible to start a movement when you don't have the advantage of having anyone pay you any mind. No media coverage. No one listening. No one talking about your work. Nothing. If people are so entirely closed to you, what hope have you got?
Greta has all the advantages of being white, namely, that of not being entirely invisible.
This isn't to detract from Greta's incredible accomplishments. She has achieved great things, largely under her own steam. What she's managed to do is nothing short of incredible. Better yet, she is using her privilege correctly; to draw attention to what needs doing.
I just wish that our indigenous activists knew how deeply admirable they are for their incredible work. I wish they would be so publicly recognised and praised, given keys to the city, opportunities to be heard by congress, marches of thousands strong behind their work. They deserve to be seen and heard.
To that end, a quick Google search led me to Indigenous Climate Action, an indigenous Canadian coalition of folks determined to fight for our world, on our behalf. From their site:
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) is an Indigenous-led organization, guided by Indigenous peoples from communities & regions across the country. Indigenous communities contribute the least to climate change yet are first to experience the effects of it. Therefore, Indigenous solutions need to be at the forefront. Our goal is to uplift Indigenous worldviews and experiences within climate discussions. Indigenous knowledge is key to finding sustainable and effective solutions. We are working towards true climate justice which guarantees real solutions and ensures that Indigenous rights will be upheld for generations to come.
I'm less afraid of the future, knowing that people like Greta, and the wonderful folks behind Indigenous Climate Action are working to make the world better. We need them. All of them.
And we need you. Sometimes it's small changes that can help. Sometimes, it takes a lot of people pushing all at once; a monumental effort. It can feel overwhelming, paralysing. But doing something, however small is better than nothing at all. A whole bunch of people carrying a single pebble often means that, without even knowing it, we've moved an entire mountain. Find your favourite climate action group and offer to volunteer, or, if you are like me and seem to have no time at all, donate, and help spread the word. Amplify the voices of those who are doing the vital work. If Indigenous Climate Action feels right to you, donate here.
Now I'm off to think of a blog post to write for my usual Tuesday spot at Black Gate Magazine.