Press Release: Social Justice = Climate Justice Art Installation / by Simone Johnson

Social Justice IS Climate Justice

The International Indigenous Youth Council, in partnership with the Colorado Climate Strike Coalition, are presenting an art installation in Denver, Colorado on the 16th Street Mall to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous, Black, and Migrant Womxn. Red and black dresses will be displayed around the mall with the names and ages of missing and murdered individuals. We are seeking at least 100 dresses of all sizes and for all ages. Red dresses will represent the Indigenous and migrant womxn currently missing or have been murdered. Black dresses will represent Black womxn who have been murdered while in police custody. We are seeking monetary donations to cover the costs of materials, installment, maintenance and breakdown of the project. Make a monetary donation below, or contact if you have a red or black dress you can donate to the project.

This art action calls out banks and private institutions funding private prisons, ICE, detention centers, and man camps as the same institutions funding the destruction of Indigenous land and POC communities. These communities bear the burden of the worst impacts of fossil fuel projects and the climate crisis. The Colorado climate justice community stands firm behind the belief that social justice is tantamount to climate justice.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn (MMIW) Epidemic

A new awareness of the number of missing and murdered Indigenous womxn on reservations and tribal lands in the United States and Canada is raising the alarm about what is being called a multi-generational epidemic.

Data behind missing womxn has been poorly tracked and under-reported because of competing legal jurisdictions, overworked police departments and remote locations. According to new legislation proposed in Congress, Indigenous womxn are murdered at a rate more than 10x times the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranks "unintentional injuries," or homicide, as the third-leading cause of death for Native American women under age 24.

"The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women has been a silent crisis for far too long. Now that indigenous communities are finding their voice through advocacy, we're raising this issue so that our mothers, daughters and sisters stop disappearing without a trace." Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, New Mexico's first Native American congresswoman, said in a statement last month.

Black Womxn Murdered in Police Custody

Although Black womxn are killed, raped and beaten by law enforcement officials and subjected to abusive prison conditions, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in the narrative surrounding state violence and the New Jim Crow.

Including Black womxn in the narrative broadens the scope of our message that social justice is climate justice. In so doing, it enhances the relationship between Black communities, law enforcement, and the environmental community. To get at the root causes of this dynamic, we must consider all the ways in which Black people are perpetual targets of state violence and discrimination.

Missing and Murdered Migrant Womxn

Migrant communities are often most affected by climate change. Many, fleeing forced relocation from natural disasters, war, famine and more. It is important that we include migrant womxn that are either missing or have been taken and are being held in unlivable conditions in US Detention Centers. Although these womxn are considered migrant womxn we must acknowledge many of them the indigenous to this hemisphere.

“The global level of forced displacement across international borders continues to rise. By the end of 2016, the total number of refugees and asylum seekers in the world was estimated at 25.9 million representing 10.1 per cent of all international migrants. The developing regions hosted 82.5 per cent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.” UN Migration Report 2017.

How It All Ties Together

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank and several others have deep investments in resource extraction or private prisons. Both of which disproportionately affect our communities. Although JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, and Fifth Third Bancorp have publicly announced to stop funding private prisons they have yet to divest from unjust fossil fuel extraction, processing and infrastructure projects.

Acknowledging and analyzing the connections between social justice issues and Climate Justice issues reveals systemic realities that go unnoticed. When we include Indigenous, Migrant and Black people, the scope of the issue broadens to include the myriad ways in which our communities experience climate change and oppressive living conditions at the hands of the state and resource extraction, processing and infrastructure projects.

Ecological degradation, systemic racism, economic inequality, social inequity - these issues are all deeply interlinked, and connected by the same root causes - colonialism, extractivism, and an economy built for profit and corporation -- all at the expense of our health, safety & democracy.

Through solidarity movement building within our local communities, we strengthen the national movement for climate justice while joining in a principled cross-movement struggle for liberation and self-governance. Whether supporting antifascist struggle, the resistance to anti-protest laws or standing up for Black power, migrant rights & Indigenous sovereignty, all of us have a role to show up and step up for one another.

We don’t live single issue lives, and this is not a single issue movement. During the week of escalated actions from September 20-29, following the Global Climate Strikes, we will target oil refineries, fracking, multinational corporations, and our elected officials to make it clear - we are building a mass, multigenerational, multiracial movement for climate justice to address the root causes, not just the symptoms. 

For more on this please read Julian Brave NoiseCat’s article in The Guardian entitled, No, climate action can't be separated from social justice.

We are requesting in-kind donations of as many red and black dresses the community is able to provide. A great place to pick these up is any thrift store!

In-Kind Donation Drop Offs

Contact to coordinate a dress drop off.

Monetary Donations

Monetary donations can be made to The International Indigenous Youth Council by check or online.