Justine Huxley writes, “Yesterday, St Ethelburga’s hosted a dialogue on the theme of climate justice and the legacy of empire. Serayna Keya Solanki, anti-oppression and sustainability consultant (1), skillfully guided us through a brave space, enabling us to explore this critical theme. Serayna Keya’s work focuses on how we can make the sustainability sector and project design fully inclusive – a tremendously important area as without this, we risk all our efforts to live in harmony with Earth simply recreating the same patterns of injustice and domination that have caused our current crisis in the first place. Her work is rooted in her own personal enquiry into what decolonisation means for her, as Gujarati-Ugandan diaspora.
As a participant, I found the session moving, throught-provoking, inspiring, humbling and galvanising. And also very relevant to the current situation and the profound inequalities highlighted by the pandemic. Serayna Keya is knowledgeable with much to share, and my sense was that it was the depth and sincerity of her personal enquiry into the themes that gave her the ability to hold the space with so much grace and open-heartedness.
In our small zoom community, we spiralled into the theme through open questions and circle sharing. We considered: When and where did we first become aware of colonialism? What critical events have been erased from our education and our version of history? What does climate justice mean for us? And perhaps most importantly, what is solidarity? This last question yielded a rich seam of tools, practices and inner attitudes that together gave us a vision of how to build honest community across differences in a way that doesn’t bypass the wounds of history and the need for justice and reconciliation.
We finished our time together with a unanimous expression of gratitude for the generous sharing of different perspectives, and, for me at least, a real hunger for more such spaces.
Below are some of the questions Serayna Keya left us to reflect on. (And we’ve included some helpful references and quotes as well).
Serayna Keya is leading a second online workshop specifically for people of colour on Wednesday 3rd June 6.30pm.
How can I relearn and keep relearning what solidarity is and why we need it?
If I’m in spaces where climate change, ecological destruction and social injustices is discussed, what do I notice about whose voices and narratives are in the room and the context? What’s unspoken? Who isn’t speaking?
What boundaries do I need to have, and what inner work do I need to do, to confront the multitude of legacies?
If I’m a white person, what do I need to do to have confidence to speak to racism in the moment or embedded around me?
If I’m a person of colour, what support do I need from other people of colour to not burn out, exist with creativity and challenge with a collective (but internally diverse) voice?
(1) Serayna Keya is also the co-founder of Diaspora Dialogues for the Future, an accomplished poet, and an alumnus of St Ethelburga’s Radical Resilience programme.
Climate Justice Links to explore further:
Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice (2020)
EJ Principles (2002)
EJ Working Together Principles (2002)
Africa Climate Justice Groups Statement (2020)
A Billion Black Anthorpocenes or None, by Kathryn Yusoff
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo
Postcolonial Banter by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan
“Until we are able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and our collective liberation struggle.” –bell hooks
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson
“What we call history is perhaps a way of avoiding responsibility for what has happened, is happening, in time?” – James Baldwin