On Saturday, Garret participated in two separate events: the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit, and the No War On Iran Global Day of Action which was endorsed and co-sponsored by the Green Party of Allegheny County.
The Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit was held all day at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was an opportunity for the greater Pittsburgh community to come together and issues impacted by racial injustice. The opening ceremony featured a panel of speakers that talked about the legacy of colonialism in the US. The theme for this year’s summit was chosen to be “From 1492-2020: Decolonize Our History to Reclaim Our Humanity”, the years symbolizing the year Columbus colonized America, not simply “discovered” it. Columbus colonized the continent via violence inflicted on the indigenous peoples of the continent, and then African slaves were brought to build what eventually become the United States. Confronting this brutal history head-on is vital for understanding how we got here and how we’re going to fix injustice. A later panel focused on the theme of Reclaiming Our Humanity by speaking about the racial stereotypes people of color face, and the need to stand up to those stereotypes. Much injustice is perpetrated because a group of people is made to be “others” and dehumanized; fighting back means humanizing people and understanding their culture. There was also a consistent theme through the event that modern politics via the Republican and Democratic Parties has largely failed black and brown communities, with several speakers calling for independent political movements that restore power to the people outside of the failed two-party system. A video of the Reclaiming Our Humanity panel discussion is available on Facebook.
Workshops at the Summit also covered a large variety of topics that touch on racial justice. Garret participated in workshops including one on climate justice and racism. That workshop shared some of the science behind understanding the climate crisis, and how racism and imperialism is leaving the poor to face the worst effects of the crisis including pollution, increased flooding and storms, and more.
At lunch time, across the street from the Summit near the Obama Academy, the No War on Iran rally called on the Trump administration and Congress to say no to more war. Aside from the horrible human cost of war, military spending takes precious resources away from other important goals like healthcare and education for everyone here in the US. The US military is also one of the biggest polluters in the world, contributing heavily to the climate crisis. Garret joined activists from several organization in opposing war. The Green Party’s Green New Deal calls for a 75% reduction in national military spending and a closure of foreign military bases, with that funding instead going into social and economic programs here at home to eliminate poverty and injustice. A photo album from the rally is also available on Facebook.
Social justice, including racial justice, and peace are two of the pillars of the Green Party. However, all four of the pillars – social justice and peace along with ecology and democracy – are inseparable from each other. Martin Luther King, Jr., recognized a similar relationship when he spoke about the “triple evils”: poverty, racism, and militarism – throw in environmental destruction, and you have the “quad evils” that the Green Party’s pillars seek to address. It is easier to make war against people that have been dehumanized; it is easier to turn your back on people suffering in poverty or dying of pollution when they have been dehumanized. Demanding social justice also means demanding democracy, an ecological economy, and peace with people all across the world – basically, recognizing that all people around the world deserve the same human rights that we do to self-determination and pursue happiness.
These issues are inseparable, and must be addressed simultaneously. Garret supports the Green Party’s Green New Deal precisely because it is the only plan designed to address these issues together. The Green New Deal is not simply about the climate crisis, but about empowering communities to make their own economic decisions and resist colonialist attitudes that threaten justice, peace, and democracy.