Have you ever heard the term intersectionality? Or how people from the Global South are hit harder by the Climate Emergency? Have you ever thought about a problem that affects you differently than others? We need to talk about it, and why on the road to Climate Justice, intersectional activism is our best route.
When we talk about the Climate Crisis we cannot ignore the social dimension of it, because that’s where the effects of this Crisis become complex and diverse. It is necessary to consider that although this is a global emergency, it impacts different social groups on different scales.
This is why the term MAPA: Most Affected People and Areas arises, to make the communities that suffer the most from the effects of Climate Change more visible. MAPA includes all territories in the Global South (Africa, Latin America, Pacific Islands, etc.) as well as marginalized communities (BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA + people, etc.) that might live anywhere in the world.
Now we do have to set another important term: Intersectionality. Intersectionality is the notion of intersecting (marginalized) identities (as MAPA communities and countries). Essentially, it looks into how someone’s various cultural, political, and social identities (such as gender identity, sexual or romantic orientation, racial identity, nationality, religion, disability, and more) intersect and create systems of discrimination, disadvantage, and privilege. (1)
Both terms sound similar to you? It’s because they are. And it is simple to see how they relate to one another. In both, we talk about historically underrepresented communities, communities that, in some way, do not get to live in the same conditions as others (socioeconomic, educational, etc.). Communities that are day-to-day more impacted by Climate Change. Intersectionality is MAPA’s backbone.
For example, Lorena is an activist who lives in Brazil. She, like others, is worried because her whole country is on fire, from the Pantanal forest to the well known Amazonian rainforest. There, the Yanomamo and Kayapo indigenous communities in the frontlines are losing their homes. Her country is in the hands of a president that cares more about the economy than the citizens’ welfare. She cares because her country is on the frontline of the climate justice battle. But MAPA activists feel unheard and the international community fails to offer them an intersectional fight, for her and for the people who live in these affected areas
”Intersectionality is not only a philosophical idea or a word, but it is also shown with little actions every day, it’s about rights and how we need to be careful. How we have To think and act with Intersectionality and not only post and talk.“Lorena Luiza MAPA activist from Brazil
Why is it important to talk about this?
Because when we talk about fighting for a common goal, we have to include MAPA people and those affected more than others; climate activism cannot leave our voices behind and governments cannot make policies without considering how the climate emergency affects us more severely. “When we think about immediate actions or solutions to come over Climate Change, (…) I’ve learned to understand that different people have different capacities and we need to take that into consideration for the end picture”. -A wonderful MAPA activist.
So, what can you do?
Start by recognizing your privileges. Unlearn and deconstruct your paradigms, educate yourself, support MAPA, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) activists, and every time you talk about the Climate Crisis, put Climate Justice and Social Justice on the table.
“We need to understand that sometimes we don’t know it all. We need to stop and listen. Even when it’s really tempting to speak.”-A wonderful MAPA activist
We should be able to uplift the voices of those who have been unheard; to stop and listen, reconstruct our opinions, we must question ourselves: are we opening a platform for MAPA? Does our way of tackling climate change include everyone – all genders, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and religions? Supporting MAPA and fighting for an intersectional movement means hearing those who have been unheard and empowering those who have not yet dared to raise their voices.
- Fridays for Future [fridaysforfuture]. (February 16, 2021) The Climate Crisis does affect people globally. But it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Marginalized groups like women. [Post] Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CLW-oUGn5j5/?igshid=1gljfh4nznwl2
- Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.