Nov 4 2017

Rebuilding From The Rubble

We’re rebuilding from the rubble. There’s no other choice…

…And there’s a lot of rubble left in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria that swept through the Caribbean last month, as well as from Hurricane Harvey that caused extensive damage and flooding in Texas.

I haven’t been home to the Virgin Islands yet, but thankfully Mom and the rest of my family are doing okay.

But the island, like many others, has been devastated…

For my people, climate change is not an intellectual debate. We see it.The evidence is in all the rubble staring back at us every single day.

“Climate change is the human rights movement of our day,” says Elizabeth Yeampierre, an internationally-known environmental activist of Puerto Rican and African descent.

“Our communities continue to get hit time and time again by climate catastrophe. We cannot choose between a Black Lives Matter protest and a climate justice forum because our survival depends on both of them,” she says.

I’ve only learned of Elizabeth’s work recently but she’s been fighting for environmental justice for more than 20 years. She’s challenging all of us to raise our fists and our voices.

“Our communities know another way. As people of African and indigenous ancestry, we come from societies and ways of life that protect and nurture Mother Earth. Now is the time to reconnect with our old ways. The knowledge is there – it is in our historical memory,” she says

I love what Elizabeth says about reconnecting to our old ways and how the knowledge we need is in our historical memory. It reminds me of something one of my mentors often said when he was teaching me the Ifa spiritual tradition. “When we break the rules of nature, nature breaks us,” he told me.

Professor Wande Ambimbola, a Yoruba scholar says: “To the ancient African mind, animals, plants and human beings were part of one large family. Planet earth is a very sacred place,” he adds. “She was not meant to be exploited as human beings have done for centuries.”

We have a lot of rethinking and rebuilding to do. Yes, we have a lot to learn from the indigenous world, but we also have a lot to learn from each other too. We’re all in this together, like it or not.

There’s something we can all do; we just need to find what that something is and we need to do it.

And we have a choice…

We can choose to see the current crisis as an opportunity, says my good friend, Maria Stiles, an artist and activist from St. Croix.

“Those of us who have been spared have a responsibility,” she says.”We have to restore balance and harmony with the earth. We need to wake up. If this is what it takes for us to look up and see the sky, then so be it.” says Maria.

“We have to plant more; we have to connect more. Times like these force us to realize how fragile we are, and how we’re totally at the mercy of the wind, the earth and the sea,” adds Maria.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Respond to this blog, and I’ll write you back as soon as I can. Would also love to hear what’s been on your mind lately.

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All my love

James Weeks
Producer, Across The King’s River