Some of the talk about reparations seems to assume that reparations will only benefit Black people, but unrepaired social injustices don’t work like that. They hurt all of us.
The basic premise of A Climate of Justice is simply that until we repair the debilitating legacy of past injustices, we will not have the possibility of saving the planet. Our social climate of injustice, in other words, prevents us from joining together to handle the climate crisis. That premise makes a lot of sense if you have been paying attention.
Some of the proposals for addressing our climate crisis simply avoid the social context. Let’s drive electric cars with rechanging stations on all our highways and roads. Let’s extract carbon from the air and subsidize solar panels on homes and businesses. And so on, as though our social context didn’t exist. We can send rockets to the moon while people are dying on the streets.
This is nothing new. What’s new is that the social divisions are growing just as much as the climate crisis. When around 30 percent of our population follow a fascist leader, building windmills reminds one of Don Quixote.
The last thing white fascists want, of course, are government programs that address past injustices through reparations. I must admit that at least the Republican leadership is paying attention to policies and programs that aim at changing our social climate from a climate of injustice to a climate of justice. What they don’t understand is that their defense of a climate of injustice prevents us from creating a public and civic context that would enable us to move toward a sustainable habitat for all of us.
We are making some progress: a few confederate monuments have been removed. Names have been changed. A few organizations, such as Georgetown University, have addressed the issue of reparations. At the same time, the resistance has grown. But the resistance, in a sense, is a sign of progress.
Changing a social climate is tough, especially on the issue of race. Still, I think it is a necessary struggle not only for justice, but also for creating a habitat for everyone.