The Black Agenda Book Summary - The Black Agenda Book explained in key points
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The Black Agenda summary

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

Bold Solutions for a Broken System

3.5 (167 ratings)
23 mins
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    The Black Agenda
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    You can’t fight for the climate without fighting for Black lives.

    In the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protests took place throughout the United States and across the world. It was a time of reckoning in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Similar murders had taken place at the hands of policemen, but this one evoked a different kind of protest. One that ignored geographic boundaries and spread across the world.

    For climate activist Mary Annaïse Heglar, these protests were a long time coming. But she found it very confusing to suddenly see fellow environmentalists say that they needed to pause their fight for climate justice and focus on Black Lives Matter activism instead.

    She was confused because, for her, it wasn’t an either/or proposition. She’d been fighting for climate justice for ten years. And she knew that the fight hinged on attacking systemic racism head-on. In other words, you can’t fight one issue without also, at the same time, fighting the other. Because they’re wrapped up together like toxic bedfellows.

    In white environmental activist circles, there’s an enduring myth that Black people don’t care about animals and the environment. That’s not true, and there’s the data to prove it. But it is true that many Black people don’t relate to white environmentalists – the people who say that they care deeply about protecting people and the planet. Why? Because many of these people and organizations fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the struggle. They see racism and climate justice as being two separate issues, when, actually, they’re entwined.

    To understand this better we need to introduce a key concept: intersectionality. This concept was first introduced by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. An intersectional approach is one that looks at how different marginal identities can impact each other. For example, intersectional feminism doesn’t just look at how being a woman can affect your opportunities in the world. It also looks at how being a Black woman, or a Black queer woman can magnify the discrimination you experience. It says, we can’t understand one struggle without understanding how those related struggles intersect and compound it.

    Intersectionality is a key concept for understanding why the Black Agenda is essential for climate activism. Climate change has been called the "Great Equalizer." The logic being, the destruction of the planet affects everybody. That statement is true, but it’s incomplete. Because the thing is, climate change affects everybody, but it doesn’t affect everybody equally. In fact, as Annaïse Heglar says, instead of being an equalizer, climate change is actually the “Great Multiplier.” It takes any threat you were already under, and multiplies it.

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    What is The Black Agenda about?

    The Black Agenda (2022) is a compilation of essays by Black experts reflecting the latest developments and challenges in diverse fields such as wellness, criminal justice, climate activism, and AI.

    Who should read The Black Agenda?

    • Activists of all stripes
    • Anyone who wants to know how tech perpetuates racism
    • Anyone who wants to know how climate change and racial justice are linked

    About the Author

    Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is an award-winning Ghanaian-American researcher, entrepreneur, and author. She cofounded the Sadie Collective, a nonprofit highlighting the underrepresentation of Black women in economics, finance, and policy. She’s also the youngest recipient of the CEDAW Women’s Human Rights Award. 

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