Student Climate Strike - 20 September 2019

By christinaillenapeake, Sep 23 2019 09:38AM

Walking through Westminster on Friday I was amazed by not only the passion but the humour of the politicial voice being excercised by the children and young people in attendance. Plus the amount of adults that attended to support the students protesting. Some of the slogans I thought had to have had a helping hand from a parent or some kind of adult but either way to see young people and so many children excercising their right to peaceful process was remarkable.

I didn't bring my son with me as I thought when he can understand whats going on I would want for him to choose to excercise his political agency rather than me making the decision for him, however, no judgement for those that did bring the little ones. I went as I still wanted to support their protest and it was an inspirational day.

One of things that did concern me though and I thought the same when I checked out the Extinct Revolution protests in London earlier this year, was that there was little to no presentation of indigenous people or alternative narratives from First Nations, people of colour and so on. They are so key to the narrative but it's like their story gets annexed or not included at all when it comes to the climate change narrative. However I was astonished by the coordination of the multiple strikes aroundthe world but I still wonder how many children, students, young people were represented from this communites in those strikes or general in relation to the indigneous communities in those countries?

I spoke to some women who were respresenting Survival International and they had noted the same. They mentioned another organisation called 'Wretched of the Earth' that also present alternative narratives but I couldn't find them as the day progressed. We discussed in general how many times the story around climate change could be read as another neo-colonial action whereby the West through foreign policy and environmental movements were dictating to other countries and their people such as Brazil how to act, yet the indigenous people at the heart of this had their voices supressed and/or were rarely invited to contribute.

This is not the first time that I have heard this type of criticism leveled at environmental movements riding high on the righteous indignation which understandable when you take a moment to absorb what is happening but argueably dictating what should happen rather than asking those living in these environments that are directly effected for their input. There is also the fact that Britain has had its industrial revolution. One where with little regulation we as a nation had pumped God knows how many tonnes of pollution, over what 150 years, into the world's seas, atmosphere and land, extracted obscene amounts of resources through colonial expansion and now we have come out of that we then seek to dictate others what they are to do. There is a hypocrisy and failure to take accountability for what we have contributed to for the last few centuries to this climate change crisis. Our colonial history has contributed to the environmental narrative as well as all the other European coutries as we explored and colonised the world.

Everyone is contributing to this and so while I applaud the young for protesting for what they believe in, we all have a hand in that and many indigenous communities have a long history of living sustainably with their environment. There is so much knowledge in these communities as well as nature that we have yet to learn.

I think this is defintiely where my research and practice is gong next, to find the myriad of stories that aren't making the headline but are at the heart of the struggle for survival.