Everyone knows who Greta Thunberg is. She is the revolutionary 16-year-old activist fighting to save our planet, speaking at climate summits, condemning politicians, and bringing attention to many issues that the media likes to ignore.
But do you know who Isra Hirsi is? Autumn Peltier? Mari Copeny? There’s a fairly good chance that you don’t. Their names aren’t common in households the way that Thunberg’s is. While we are thankful and empowered by the strides that Thunberg has made, it’s important that we hear the voices of the youth of color who have been fighting just as long and just as hard to save our planet.
These women are not prominently featured by the media, which is interesting, and a problem that needs to change because indigenous people and people of color are the communities that are and will be affected by climate change the most deeply. We need to spotlight how climate change affects Black communities at a disproportionate rate. We need to recognize that communities that have been fighting the hardest to save the planet will suffer the greatest, harshest consequences.
Isra Hirsi was the co-founder of the US Youth Climate Strike. She is the daughter of House Representative Ilhan Omar, and her involvement in climate activism became prominent after hearing about the Flint water crisis in 2014. She also has attended the United Nations Youth Climate Summit.
Autumn Peltier, a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, is known as the “water warrior.” Peltier addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection last year, and how her tribe believes that water is sacred. The year before that, when she was 12, she confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and told him that she was unhappy with his policies on controversial pipeline projects.
These girls come from marginalized communities, with extremely deep and personal ties to many of the issues brought on by climate change. Yet, the media doesn’t give them the same opportunities to fight for what they believe in as they do with Thunberg.
It’s hardly fair. If we look at this crisis through the lens media is giving us, we are restricting ourselves from viewing and understanding the suffering of multiple communities across the world. These communities deserve better. Our planet deserves better.