Time To Speak Up for Climate Justice

NOVEMBER 15, 2022



By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Filmmakers! Time to ‘Stand Up, Step Out, and Speak Up’ for Climate Justice

I love being around other creative people. This past weekend, I had the privilege of joining my colleague Eboni Johnson and our partners at the Houston Cinema Arts Society, the Austin Film Society, and PBS NOVA at our first Black Media Story Summit on Climate Justice. If you weren’t there, either in person or online, I must say, you missed something really special. I invite you to check out the recordings of these rich proceedings on our YouTube channel.

Black folks everywhere are disproportionately affected by climate change, not because we are inherently weak, but because social, economic and political policies too often have conspired to place us at greater risk.

The Story Summit’s keynote speaker, Ms. Doris Brown, a Houston-area climate justice advocate, issued a clarion call to Black communities. We must “stand up, step out, and speak up,” she said. The summit’s panelists also emphasized the urgent need for more community mobilization around climate justice issues, as the justice we are due will only come about if we hold elected officials, civil servants, and corporate leaders more accountable for their climate-related decisions.

Doris Brown-BMSS Climate Justice-edited

Screen Shot of Ms. Doris Brown speaking on Climate Justice at Black Media Story Summit in Houston

Our filmmaker panelists generously shared the types of opportunities and obstacles they are encountering as they work to complete and distribute their films. We even got to peek at a few exciting new projects on the topic of climate change.

It took decades for the scientific community to convince earthlings that climate change is not only real, but that human activity is to blame. Because of that, nations across the globe are finally working to transition away from fossil-fueled energy. As that transformation unfolds, however, earthlings must now be persuaded that climate injustice also is real, and must be corrected. That’s where Black storytellers come in. Black folks need to see themselves in this story before we can expect them to do anything about it. We must tell our communities’ stories and lead efforts to inform the public about what they can do to improve. Our storytellers must also ensure that those Black folks who are pioneering the path to a clean-energy future are celebrated and acknowledged for their genius and perseverance.

The climate change emergency is an unparalleled existential threat. But Black folks are no strangers to tough situations. I have little doubt that humanity will work this one out. The question is, will our people be among those who survive? With the creative engagement of our storytellers, I’m convinced we will.


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