As Sand im Getriebe, we oppose all forms of racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, classist, and ableist discrimination and strive to make structural and individual discrimination visible and change it.
At the same time, we perceive that as an alliance we are predominantly white, many of us have academic backgrounds, and are able-bodied. We accept criticism of our ways of working and structures and would like to make them more accessible.
On anti-racist work:
We know that often the responsibility for addressing anti-racism falls on BIPOC alone, and we think it's important that we address it as white people as well. The road to a fully accessible movement is still long and an ongoing process. So, as a result of an anti-racism workshop in June, we developed proposals in each of the working groups on how to think about anti-racist work in the context of the topics we deal with. At this point, we would like to begin by outlining why we understand that addressing the issue of racism is especially important for us as a climate justice movement. To do this, we use definitions and explanations below from the "locals united" project, whose booklet "Colonialism and the Climate Crisis - 500 Years of Resistance," presents the issues facing white climate groups. First, by way of introduction and explanation, we adopt definitions of BIPOC and white as used in the brochure and elsewhere:
BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The term, which originated in the U.S. civil rights movement, is an empowering and solidarity-based self-designation. Black is capitalized in every context to make it clear that it is neither an adjective nor a color. What BIPOC have in common are shared experiences of racism, exclusion from the white-dominated majority society, and collective attributions of "otherness." Thus, it is not about biological commonalities, but primarily about social commonalities and experiences. The term positions itself against attempts at division through racism as well as against discriminatory foreign designations by white majority societies. Self-determined self-designation is an active, empowering, and critical act, and thus an essential part of the history of resistance to European colonialism and racism.
white, unlike BIPOC, is not a political, empowering self-designation, but marks the dominant and privileged position of people within the racist system. This position is linked to the experience of being considered the social standard and norm. This, in turn, is perceived as natural and normal. By marking people as white, this experience and perception is marked as white privilege and the racist system of power and oppression is made visible. To make it clear that being white is not an empowering self-designation, white is written in lowercase and italics. white does not designate a color or skin tone, it is a political term.
Colonialism and climate crisis:
On average, the Global South is already three times more affected by the climate crisis than the Global North. The Global North, however, is the main cause of climate change and a profiteer and has also, through colonialism and post-colonial practices, forced the Global South into a position for centuries in which many countries have no means of adapting to climate change at all. This means not only is the responsibility unequally distributed, but so are its consequences.
Why it is problematic when climate alliances are predominantly white:
Climate activism in the Global North has historically been based on the narrative of white environmentalism, which views the environment primarily as a resource and has often been disconnected from social justice.
Some white activists stage themselves (or have done so) as "saviors" of the climate, which goes hand in hand with the development narrative of a Global South that needs to be "saved," thus denying it a voice of its own and relegating it to the role of victim.
This also often ignores the fact that there are many BIPoC who are working against climate change and for environmental protection. Instead, BIPoC are often even accused of a lack of interest in the topic. However, it is particularly the anti-colonial struggles of the Global South, which have existed for over 500 years, that are fighting the very system that created the climate crisis.
Thus, if we understand that colonial thinking is at the root of the climate catastrophe, this means that the liberation and fight against colonial thinking is also a fight for the climate.
Dealing with these findings:
We continue to deal with our own imprinting, reflect on our attitudes and behavior, deal with possibilities for action in everyday life, talk to people affected by racism and try to create spaces where BIPOC people raise their issues. We recognize that overcoming racism is a collective task, and we can only succeed in exchange with others. In the Working Group for Networking with Most Affected People and Areas, we exchange ideas with activists in the Global South and also place their content on our social media platforms and advocate for media awareness of these activities. We recognize that collaboration at eye level is difficult to achieve due to postcolonial power relations and strive to discard socially learned patterns. We critically observe how much space white climate justice groups take up, we want to respectfully listen to BIPOC and actively support them in their struggles without instrumentalizing their engagement.
Racism and police:
It is important for us to emphasize that it is impossible for all people to go into action under the same conditions. People carry their privileges, their structural discrimination as well as their experiences from the past. This significantly influences how people perceive an action and what happens to them during and after it.
We see the police as a structurally racist institution. Chances are high that white people have had fewer negative police experiences in their lives than BIPOC. Per racial profiling, BIPOC are checked more often and often experience racist attacks there in a variety of forms. These range from racist comments to murder by police violence.
In demonstrations/actions this means that the risk of repression is higher for BIPOC than for white people. Experience shows that often white activists in contact with the police make jokes and interact positively with them, which people with experiences of discrimination can perceive as a lack of solidarity. We ask white activists to reflect on their privilege and limit their contact with the police to what is necessary. In the past, BIPOC have been pulled out of action groups by Bavarian police. In action, it might make sense to protect vulnerable people, e.g. by not having them sit on the very outside of a police encirclement, without over-motivated white-positioned people acting as unasked-for bodyguards. Feel free to talk to each other about needs and act in solidarity.