Yes, the crisis will come for everyone. But there are massively unjust ways this is damaging some people more than others. And when we erase that, when we ignore the voices of those on the frontlines and who have the most at stake, when we focus only on “our children” and not the people who are dying now, we risk leaving space for eco-fascism. By refusing to name the causes of both the climate crisis and other social injustices–colonialism and capitalism—XR will continue to alienate the people who are already living at the sharp end of the system that is ultimately killing us all. In the run-up to the October International Rebellion, members of XR Scotland chose to highlight these issues, and to respond to the concerns of women of colour in our group being dismissed by key figures in XR UK, by creating banners reading “DECOLONISE XR” and “CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE”. Many people, and other groups in XR such as Extinction Rebellion Youth, Global Justice Rebellion and XR Internationalist Solidarity Network, applauded these banners. Others in XR UK questioned this ‘messaging’. At last week’s roadblock action targeted at the Government Oil and Gas conference, protestors from groups other than XR Scotland began singing the chant “police, we love you, we’re doing this for your children too”. A woman who was with the XR protest started to shout: “Say that to Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan’s family; say you love the police to the people of Tottenham. Say that to my friends whose lives are ruined by this system. Listen, if the people on that road were all people of colour they would be getting charged at with riot gear. My black and brown friends get stopped and searched EVERY DAY”. Other XR members told her off for raising her voice and talking about something that was ‘unrelated’. While some Scottish rebels went around asking people individually not to sing that chant, another XRS rebel – a young woman of colour – took the megaphone to ask “please don’t sing that – it’s really alienating to people from marginalised communities’. A middle-aged white woman then took the megaphone away from her, to say that she does love the police, that she is doing this for their children, and her own children. A woman of colour’s critique was very literally silenced by the concerns of the white woman. Narrating this incident is not to individually blame that white woman—her actions were a symptom of something systemic in both XR and wider society. But what it reminds the white, middle-class people that dominate our movement is to stop taking the megaphone. To be quiet, and listen.
Extinction Rebellion Scotland op Facebook