Working for three straight months over summer vacation, giving up family commitments, skipping time with friends, and enduring the endless stress of meetings to organize this strike was not easy. But I have never felt passion quite like I have while working to further climate action. I have grown up in many ways in the past six months and taught myself many skills. Climate justice activism has become my livelihood. Every day has been a learning experience, and I have come to realize the radically inclusive nature with which we must approach the challenges ahead in combating the climate crisis.
In organizing climate actions as a part of the NYC Climate Strike Coalition, we model the world we want to live in. We take radical inclusivity, not just as a buzzword, but as a testament to our commitments to justice and prioritization of frontline communities. In radical inclusivity, prioritizing a lack of hierarchy and epitomizing the idea of taking space and making space for other voices to be heard is key. We as youth do not have a platform to voice our concerns for the climate crisis, so we are creating that platform for ourselves.
We have been taught since birth to care for our neighbors, and climate justice is just that. We take radical action to stand up for all creatures and the biodiversity of this planet. The problem is that our mobilizing, instead of inspiring action, has led to empty promises from world leaders. We are not interested in praises for our work and apologies for messing up our planet. We are not interested in photo ops with important people. We are interested in real leaders working together for systemic change for a livable future.
The current status quo that those in power are operating under is one of political processes and empty words. We have seen that the adults in power are not doing a good enough job, and we have responded by taking mass grassroots action. Our movement will continue to grow with the support of adult allies, but we need everyone working together to achieve it.
Fighting for climate justice is our livelihood, but we must remember who the true leaders of this movement are. The notion of reciprocal care for our planet is in the cosmology of indigenous people all over the world. So, don’t just praise Greta. Learn about the youth of color and indigenous youth who are facing the worst effects of the climate crisis right now. True togetherness and radical inclusivity are how we will overcome the climate crisis. We have the solutions, and now we must join all together toward our one goal of preserving life on this planet.
Hear more from Azalea and other youth climate activists on Sunday, October 27 at 10am at The Climate Strike: A Wake-up Call from One Generation to Another. Email the Rev. Matt Welsch at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Azalea Danes is a senior at the Bronx High School of Science and climate justice activist born, raised, and living in New York City. A congregation member and Youth Chorister at Trinity Church Wall Street, she is a climate strike organizer, writer, and representative for Fridays for Future New York City.