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pass the microphone to those who are already feeling the consequences of climate change
Pass The Mic movement

Pass the mic movement
Photo (Detail): © Pass the mic movement

For those who do not know me, I am a white, privileged, woman living in Belgium - a rich Western European country. I am well aware of my privileges and I am using them to stand up for those who do not enjoy such privileges.

By Lola Segers

Despite my deep gratitude for the platform afforded me as an activist, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the story I am telling is only a story. I am speaking not from experience, but from a future concern, and a present fear for MAPA* regions and communities thousands of miles away. For me, it is a choice to tell these stories and to promote activism around them. But there are so many who do not have this choice, and who do not tell a story, but their daily reality -- a reality of current fear and uncertainty as the effects of climate change are already taking a toll on their lives.  

Sir David Attenborough, please pass the microphone.  

So today I am passing the microphone to another movement: the pass the mic movement and a representative thereof,  Danielle Sams. Danielle is an intersectional, environmental justice activist who was involved in launching this movement. She has taken the time to explain the values and standards as well as the importance of this movement to me.  

The movement originated last November when David Attenborough announced the deactivation of his social media platform with 6.2 million followers. A British biologist known for his phenomenal nature documentaries and a hugely influential voice in the climate movement, Sir David was inundated with messages and hashtags asking him to pass on his platform to people from MAPA who are less seen and heard and who have been affected by the climate crisis for decades.  

The impact of the voice of those on the front line

Danielle told me that Sir David has not yet passed on the microphone, but that action is still being taken on this front. The movement has not been idle in the meantime, and has been highly successful in working with other organisations to raise and underscore the voices of marginalised groups. The voice of people who are often forgotten in our current system and who find it much harder to gain access - through discrimination or lack of time or knowledge - to places where changes are being made.  

The same faces keep popping up in the political world and in the climate movement --  faces that will be safe from the effects of climate change for a long time to come.

These privileges are powerful and can be used to bring those who are less privileged into the fold and involve them in bringing about change.  Danielle moreover stressed that raising the voices of those who know the effects of the climate crisis is of fundamental importance. "Instead of making assumptions about what it will take to halt climate change, let's listen to those who are on the front line and know exactly what will have to be done," Danielle advised.  

All hands on deck 

We need everyone for this fight. The media must create a platform for MAPA communities and dare to face the urgency and proclaim it to the general public. Space must be created in our political system for a more inclusive version of the story. The climate movement and its most popular faces must create a broader voice and step aside regularly to turn the floor over to someone else, while showcasing people who are doing exceptionally important groundwork and launching amazing campaigns and initiatives.  

"At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, the same dreams and ideals. And that is why we have to overcome a capitalist and colonialist mindset, which is not always self-evident. But remember - there is hope and we will get there if we all keep working together,” Danielle said.  

With this article, I bring the third season of Blog, Engage, Act to a close and would like to get you fired up for the fourth season in which we will write about ideas ahead. Stay tuned!  

*MAPA stands for Most Effected People and Areas. The term is used primarily to raise the profile of the communities most affected by the consequences of climate change. MAPA comprises all areas of the South as well as marginalised communities that can live anywhere in the world.