Updated: May 6
This past Monday (Mar. 28), environmental non-profit organization Sierra Club joined with married power couple Blair and Brandon Dottin-Haley, aka #TheBlairisms, live from the World Expo in Dubai to discuss the climate crisis and the African Diaspora.
Alongside social activist Conscious Lee and grassroots activist from the Africa Coal Network Lorraine Chiponda, the two organizations highlighted efforts to counteract climate change in Africa.
"The energy poverty is rampant in Africa. Because of the climate impact caused by the mining of fossil fuels, Africa surprisingly has a lot of energy poverty. More than 600 million people go to bed each night without electricity, without access to power," shared Chiponda during the conversation.
The Disproportionate Impact of the Climate Crisis
On behalf of industrialized nations, coal companies have colonized Africa, spreading pollution throughout the continent. This pollution has ravaged countries in the Global South, and the global leaders in carbon emissions--the US, UK and many others--are responsible.
African nations have urged the UN to establish a Green Climate Fund. The fund would funnel $100 billion annually for adaptation and mitigation projects in Africa. With this new partnership, Sierra Club and #Blairisms wish to expose this long-forgotten injustice.
"If we trace back the origins from the climate crisis...this started out as the result of the industrial revolution. Countries in Europe decided that they needed to expand, to create wealth for themselves....they came to Africa, colonized our countries, our societies, our natural resources," said Chiponda.
"And even after now, we still have the same type of system that is operating...We're still seeing oil companies from abroad fighting for fossil fuels in Africa...despite the fact that there isn't any meaningful benefit for the communities in Africa. We have to go back to the drawing board and rethink the type of development that we want."
Gay power couple Blair and Brandon Dottin-Haley, owners of #Blairisms, hosted the event. Blairisms began as a clothing line. It has evolved from an apparerel brand to a digital media outlet, which is home to their award-winning Savage Chat Series.
Coined as "brand activists" by actress Erika Alexander in 2020, the couple see their duty as both educators and entrepreneurs, stimulating conversations around the African Diaspora and global black culture. The two have showcased their designs on the reunion of Patrik Ian Polk's Noah's Arc, as well as to their thousands of followers on social media.
The Sierra Club also joined the conversation. The Sierra Club's International Climate and Policy Campaign works to rally against the disproportionate impact of climate change through lobbying, legal action, and education. The Sierra Club's Director of International Climate Policy Cherelle Blazer spoke on the organizations work to lift the veil over the racist system underpinning the climate crisis.
"We need to have a serious conversation and not allow the global north and those countries who have already benefitted off of fossil fuels and who have put everyone else in the world in harms way....Right now, what those countries are saying is 'well, lets have a conversation about adaptation, let's figure it out'. But it's time out for figuring it out...now we have to make a quick pivot," said Blazer.
She continued, "we have to quickly figure out in a just way how to transform our energy systems, social systems and the political systems so that we can all live. Right now, we are not on that trajectory. Even with all of the climate pledges that have happened at the UN, we are still on a 2.4 trajectory - we are still outside of the carrying capacity of the Earth right now."
*Editor's Note: Learn about the meaning of the Earth's carrying capacity here, via the Australian Academy of Science.
In addition to this exciting lineup and conversation, social media sensation Conscious Lee sat among the many speakers. Conscious Lee is a public speaker, educator and an active ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Known for his unconventional approach to education, he has taught at multiple universities throughout his illustrious career.
Lee is a disciple of the true, radical Martin Luther King. Over the years, he has gained a massive following on TikTok for his succinct and at times subversive commentary.
Lee shared his thoughts on the climate change conversation, saying, "what we're seeing though, just like the other countries that's most responsible, is that...the corporations, these fossil fuel companies are lining their pockets, getting 'big' rich, creating their generational wealth, creating their trusts, ...[but] its making it to where these people who live in these communities are still dealing with no access to jobs...still dealing with clean water being impacted...still dealing with your land being naturalized by a horrible company."
He continued, "[Corporations] gonna gaslight you, chastise you, and call you some 'ungrateful negroes' if you do not take what they give you...if you try to be critical. One of the biggest takeaways is that we recognize the intersectionality of the impacts...like economic disparity [and] health impacts."
The Solution - How Can the Gayes Help?
The Blairisms and the Sierra Club's actionable solutions are centered on raising awareness. You may sign up here to stay involved and connected to future conversations, which will be held monthly.
Watch the full Instagram Live of their conversation here! Watch some snippets below: