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Riley Rogan

Global Challenges Seminar


November 21, 2016
2. What connections did you see between the interdisciplinary nature of this Global Challenges
discussion and a global challenge you seek to address? What interdisciplinary approaches might
you take in your education and/or your personal actions to make that issue real and personal for
you?
During the global challenges seminar I was surprised by the amount of connections I
could draw between the issues of climate change and racism in the global community.
To begin, Jane got the discussion kicked off with multiple connections between the issues
I am comparing. Jane vocalized the fact that the oppressed in the situation of global warming
werent really the ones who got to talk about it. Her perspective on this was particularly valuable
on this because she is a citizen of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, which is a group of people
that, like other Native Americans, has been discriminated against for an incredibly long time.
Also, when she was speaking about the fact that pipeline was going to be laid under a river with
historical importance to them, Jane expressed the fact that even though the decision would
mainly impact the Osages, they were not even consulted on the project. This is similar to how it
is difficult for oppressed people of color to find a voice to resist their oppression due to the fact
that they are not the ones consulted on issues pertinent to their problems. Along a similar train of
thought, she mentioned the long standing fact that academia has been a predominately white
space, which allows mainly just whites to ask the important questions in the climate change
crisis, even though people of color share the adverse effects. Again, this is true for racism in
America as well. One of the most popular anti-racism authors out there right now is Tim Wise,
writer of White Like Me and Dear White America, two well written books to help get whites
thinking about how racism towards people of color impacts them as well and must be put to an
end. Tim Wise fully admits he uses his whiteness to his advantage. While he has been able to get
mainstream exposure for his writings as a white man, many people of color are penning works
with the same topics, but they just arent reaching the same level of academic respect. One final
part Jane touched on was the issue of Allyship. On the issue of global warming, Jane stated,
Theres a lot of language about being an ally, but I think we need to change that to become
accomplices instead and actually take action. This is certainly relevant to the lack of actual
change being enacted in global warming, but this sort of dialect has been used in terms of race
relations as well. Oftentimes, white folks who call themselves allies to people of color fail to see
the fact that it is essentially useless to do so unless they find a way to more actively support the
cause of attaining equity.
Next, Hanson also was able to contribute to the discussion using his interesting
perspective as a man who has worked in international news for quite some time. He contended,
Communities of color and indigenous communities are most negatively impacted by climate
change so they take action among themselves in coalition. One of the reasons why this is the
case is related to residential segregation and redlining to contain blacks especially in highly
concentrated areas in less desirable locations of cities. According to a startling statistic from an
article on The Nation news website, Sixty-eight percent of African Americans live within
thirty miles of a coal-fired power plant (Hsieh). Obviously, this close proximity to one of the
main contributors of carbon dioxide pollution makes the issue of climate change even more
harmful to people of color. This should go without saying, but just to make the connection,
racism most negatively impacts people of color as well, although it is important to note that the

discrimination of a portion of society negatively impacts all of it, so there are negative
ramifications for whites as well.
Finally, the climate scientist, Dave, also had some important insight to share. The first
part he brought up was when he stated, If you have the hubris to take action on some greater
knowledge you have, negative consequences could arise. In an example he used for climate
change, Dave mentioned the correct prediction of a drought in Brazil that was brought to the
attention of the farm owners, which resulted in all of the workers getting laid off when they
realized they wouldnt need them. The larger concept here is that even when intentions are good,
care must be taken to avoid coming off as a privileged person with superior knowledge. The best
example of this is what is known as the white savior complex which is defined as white people
feeling the need to push their culture on people of color to save them from their situation. As
an additional point, Dave brought up the idea that the only way to truly address climate change is
through global governance. In his opinion, policies to prevent global change must be forced by
the government because if not, it will be impossible to make a difference. I found myself
agreeing with that, and I also think that it is applicable to race issues as well. There has to be
some policies pushed by the government to achieve equity or else there is no chance that people
of color will be on the same level of privilege as whites living in the same situation.
To conclude, the issue of racism is real and personal to me because I realize the pain and
suffering that it has caused, and continues to cause in the lives of people of color. At the same
time, I acknowledge that the issue is in no way as real or personal to people of color who have to
be discriminated against every day, so ways that I can make this issue more tangible to me is to
talk and communicate in a similar way to what we did in the panel to achieve a well rounded
variety of opinions and feelings that I could use to form a more substantial understanding of this
incredibly important issue.