Welcome to earthweal’s open link weekend No. 23.
It’s been a loud week: lots of marching, protests, projectiles, pepper spray, low blows, speeches, burning cars, funerals, tear gas, posturing with Bibles, invectives, rhetorics, theories, cell phone videos, baton crunches, curfews, solidarity, despair and hope—around the world.
Is anyone else’s ears ringing?
One conclusion is that the economic buzz-saw of the pandemic has revealed the raw fault lines in market liberalism, the grievous gulf between haves and have-nots. The worst off are the most marginalized in pocket and body. In the U.S., African Americans have suffered worst from COVID-19, and young black men are arrested, beaten, die at police custody or are imprisoned at dramatically higher rates than their white peers. Police brutality and the authoritarian regimes they protect and project are a flash-point of the split between oppressor and oppressed, and systemic racism is nowhere as deeply rooted and vastly ignored than in (again) the United States.
Our raw environment shares this divide with extractors and extracted (for the pugnacious, humanity vs. the rest of animal, mineral and vegetable existence on Earth) lining up in similar ways. Climate change similarly revealing the gulf between one and ninety-nine percent. As the human population grows toward 10 billion, the rate of vertebrate extinctions is speeding up faster and faster.
Justice is called for on both accounts, and time is short: nothing is improved in either case by waiting, kicking the can down the road or ignoring the freight of impending damage. Environmental justice may be the only way to properly address both racism and climate change. Both point to the same essential wrong which only we humans can address.
As Bill McKibben recently wrote,
… Having a racist and violent police force in your neighborhood is a lot like having a coal-fired power plant in your neighborhood. And having both? And maybe some smoke pouring in from a nearby wildfire? African-Americans are three times as likely to die from asthma as the rest of the population. “I Can’t Breathe” is the daily condition of too many people in this country. One way or another, there are a lot of knees on a lot of necks.
The job of people who care about the future—which is another way of saying the environmentalists—is to let everyone breathe easier. But that simply can’t happen without all kinds of change. Some of it looks like solar panels for rooftops, and some of it looks like radically reimagined police forces. All of it is hitched together.
—“Racism, Police Violence and The Climate Are Not Separate Issues,” The New Yorker, June 4, 2020
All of it. So let’s see what sort of linkages you come up with. Every poem is a solution, a “complicate amassing harmony” as Wallace Stevens put it; let’s harness that bonding energy to a weekend of Earth justice.
Share a poem of your own preference, new or old, Tristanned or Ysouled.
Open links taken through Sunday; be sure to visit other linkers and comment.