A Note on the US Election

posted by Lindsey Allen

This is a sobering moment.

Today I am filled with both disappointment and determination, inspired by the demonstrations of love, resistance and solidarity from around the country in response to the election of a president that used racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, xenophobia, and religious bigotry to win.

In this moment of reflection, we need to be explicit about the role that racism and scapegoating played in the election. It feels important to open a conversation that I hope will transform frustration into action. As I begin to process the election outcome, I am struck by two things:

  1. The environmental movement needs to directly challenge issues of racism and bigotry. All the time — not just during elections. This is not news and yet it bears repeating. Green organizations have been some of the most effective and well-supported in any nonprofit sector. At the same time, we must acknowledge that mainstream environmentalism is connected to a legacy of racism and land grabbing. It is important to take responsibility for the times that environmental organizations have prioritized increasing their access and financial resources while looking the other way on issues of environmental racism and racial injustice. As a movement, we must intentionally work across issues and make explicit the connections between environmentalism and the fight for racial justice.

  2. The fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground and forests standing can trigger concerns of economic impact on communities that rely on extraction and production jobs. The “jobs versus environment” argument allows those profiting off the backs of workers at the expense of our planet to divide us. When calling for an end to the extractive economy, we must center our solutions around ensuring a just transition for workers. Frontline and fenceline communities are leading this work and it is our responsibility to incorporate this expertise.

At RAN, we remain committed to taking leadership from frontline communities in all of our work And we are strengthened by and committed to supporting the organizing and movement building happening across the country and across the globe — from the ongoing work of The Movement for Black Lives, to the continuing resistance against the North Dakota Access pipeline; from the communities in Texas fighting against fracked gas terminals, to the Indonesian communities fighting against corporate land grabbing.

Today it may seem like achieving our mission — to preserve forests, protect the climate and uphold human rights — is a long way away. When the incoming president believes that climate change is a hoax, we know that we have a long road ahead of us.

And yet, we still believe in people power. More people in this country voted for the candidate who believes that climate change is real, that racism and police brutality exist, and that there is no room for a wall when talking about comprehensive immigration policy. That’s a fact.

I am grateful that we have a strong network ready for this fight. Today I was inspired by the Open Letter to our Nation and call to action from 100 women of color leaders including one of our Board members Deepa Isac. I look forward to seeing many of you on November 15th for the #NoDAPL day of action

For people and planet,
Lindsey Allen
Executive Director
Rainforest Action Network