Statement by XRWNC Action & Logistics team

On April 22nd Extinction Rebellion WNC rebels in PPE unfurled banners over I-240 in Asheville, NC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. On the April 23rd, we posted images of these banners on our Facebook page in solidarity with banner drops across the state promoting NC United for Survival and Beyond‘s 10-point social and economic justice platform. 

The NC United platform calls on the Governor and NC state legislature to enact long-term measures to protect and support all North Carolinians for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. (You can read the platform here, in English and Spanish: https://survivalandbeyond.info/platform/).

Effective today, Extinction Rebellion WNC officially endorsed and signed the platform. #United4Survival

How are Earth Day and the NC United for Survival Coalition related? Why, as an environmental organization, do we care about this social and economic justice platform?

Denis Hayes, one of the organizers of the first Earth Day, conceived of Earth Day as an opportunity to “marry science with social justice activism — not to clean air but leave slums and ghettos … nor to provide a healthy world for racial oppression and war.”* Hayes and other organizers, many of whom had been involved in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, wanted to use Earth Day to challenge the exploitative economic system that relied on mass poverty, systematic racism and oppression, violence, and repression to maintain social order, all while stripping the planet bare to feed its rapacious industries and line the pockets of a wealthy few. 

Unfortunately, this new and necessary understanding of what defined a successful movement — one that took on racism, classism, sexism, trans- and homophobia at the same time it fought to clean the air and heal the Earth — was downplayed or dismissed in most mainstream environmentalist discourse from 1980 to the mid-2000s. 

On account of this, the movement has all too often excluded working class people, people of color, indigenous people and queer people

Now, more than ever, we cannot forget that the toxic system that devalues and oppresses working class people, people of color, indigenous people and queer people — the system that puts these people at greatest risk during pandemic — is the same system that has devalued and devastated the planet. 

At Extinction Rebellion, we believe that to save the planet (and the people on it), we must displace the exploitative culture of late-stage capitalism with a new regenerative culture, the foundation of an alternative economic and social order that uplifts the vulnerable and oppressed and actively interrogates and dismantles beliefs and systems that perpetuate racism, classism, sexism, and trans- and homophobia.

For that reason, XRWNC is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with this public endorsement of the 10-point platform published by the NC United for Survival and Beyond Coalition — which strives to address the needs of the most vulnerable North Carolinians — as one of many first steps toward creating a regenerative culture and a better world. 

Together, we can and will build a new, just society, one that values the lives of all people. 

Together, we can and will build a better future, for the sake of all future generations.

We are in this together. #United4Survival

*Thanks to the rebels who made banners and those who held them on Earth Day and to our stellar photographer! 

**REFERENCES

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/environmentalisms-racist-history

https://newrepublic.com/article/142112/earth-day-white-touch-reality

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