So much has happened since the beginning of 2020. Many of us could never have imagined the rapid onslaught of change, anxiety and grief brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor could we have foreseen the newfound solidarity and hope brought on by the tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to demand an end to police brutality and white supremacy.
But for those who listen closely, the warning signs were all there. Experts have been warning for years that habitat destruction could cause a new disease outbreak with potentially devastating consequences. And activists, communities, and scholars have been cautioning that the United States is a tinderbox of injustice with 400 years of kindling ready to catch light.
The exploitation of people and the planet throughout our history didn’t happen by accident. It happened because those in power chose to prioritize dividends over clean rivers and breathable air. They chose to ransack the world’s natural resources with wheels oiled by the blood and sweat of black, brown and indigenous people. It was happening before the first slave ships landed in Virginia and it happens today as each timber tree is stolen from the unceded lands of indigenous communities in Sarawak.
I hope what we are seeing in 2020 is not a breaking point, but a tipping point. COVID-19 has given us all a newfound appreciation for our health and safety and thrown into sharp relief the role of forests for our planetary health. And the protests in the United States and around the world have given many of us a deeper understanding of our privilege. So much of our world is built on theft and it is time to start paying back what we owe. It’s time to start listening a little more closely.
During these challenging times, I am anchored by the extraordinary work of communities demanding justice around the world, and by the work we are able to do at The Borneo Project. We will continue to fight injustice where we see it, and to empower indigenous communities to safeguard the rainforests of Sarawak.
If you are able to do so, I ask that you contribute to The Borneo Project today. Despite the pandemic pause, we will continue our work for planetary health, for indigenous rights, and for climate survival.
Director, The Borneo Project
P.S. If you would like to learn more about the Movement for Black Lives, head to https://m4bl.org