What not to do in the middle of civil unrest: use the personal pain of marginalized people to blatantly push your agenda.
Just yesterday Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, took to Twitter in order to use George Floyd’s death to promote environmental policy issues, saying “ ‘I can’t breathe’ speaks to police violence, but it also applies to the struggle for clean air. Environmental racism is just one form of racism. It’s all toxic” in a now-deleted tweet.
No, Ms. Nichols. “I can’t breathe” speaks to the dangerous inequities of police brutality. Period.
Assemblymember Jim Cooper, a former police officer, rightfully blasted Nichol’s comments, marking them as tone deaf and exploitative, “Now that you’ve disrespected the thousands of people peacefully protesting and not to mention the family of Mr. Floyd. Do you have any other insights to provide,” stated Assm. Cooper.
Not all issues are meant to be intersectional at all times. Do environmental justice inequities deserve to be addressed and tackled? Absolutely. But not while we are focused on our fight for humanity.
Nichol’s has since apologized, kind of.
On the same day, President Donald Trump used the background of civil unrest for a photo-op, tasking police and the National Guard to physically remove peaceful protesters with tear gas from historic St. John’s Church for the purpose of the perfect photo-op.
President Trump has not apologized for his actions.
In this tiring fight for recognition, let this be a lesson: do not pretend to care about black people and their conditions while using their anguish for political means.
This article was written by Faultline staff writer, Ashley Clark