Ahead of the Together Against Trump: Stop the State Visit Demonstration on Tuesday 4th June, Nathan Street interviews Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson
Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson is a 15-year-old environmental activist from East London who has played a leading rule in school strikes for Climate Change and he explains why this protest is vital for climate change activists.
What was your reasoning for getting involved initially in the school strikes for Climate Change?
I got inspired to initially get involved in the climate strikes probably because my parents who are also very environmentally conscious. Aswell as this, I noticed that our planet was dying beneath my feet yet nothing was being done about it, so I wanted to make a stand and do something about it.
Why should climate campaigners protest against Donald Trump's visit?
Donald Trump is a climate denier; he is ripping our future away from us by delaying new green policies from being past just for money. So I don't understand why he is being supported by doing this. That is why we need to tell him that what he is doing is just not acceptable, not in the US nor the UK because the climate crisis goes beyond borders. He is affecting, not only children from the USA’s futures, but from the whole globe.
How do you see the climate change movement developing and the impact that has come from the school strikes?
The climate change movement is definitely developing. Parliament has declared a climate crisis. However we still need to see more action. Words are words and actions are actions.
When you say “actions are actions”. What sort of actions are you and others in the movement calling for? What do you think should be prioritised?
We need The Green New deal to be implemented in the UK. But we need our government to act like we are in a climate crisis, not pass legislation in favour of the Heathrow expansion mere hours after the climate emergency was declared.
What do you think the difference protesting can make, why is it important?
Protesting can change the world, it not only puts immediate pressure on the government but it is character building. Protesting empowers people and makes their voices heard.
Why do you think it’s important to build a mass movement in opposition to Donald Trump and the politics he embodies?
It is very important to build a mass movement against Donald Trump’s state visit because he goes against all British values. One of our British values state that we should be tolerance of diversity and differences. Yet it's not a secret that Donald Trump is homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist and Islamophobic, as well as being a climate change denier.
That’s interesting with regards to what you say about Trump’s homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist and Islamophobic beliefs, acts and politics. How do you think campaigners on those issues can link with and support climate strikers and climate strikers can support them in their struggles?
We are all fighting and striving towards a better and happier future. We need support from everyone. One way in which we are connected is that climate change is currently forcing people to flee from their homes. This results in people having to go to different countries just to be safe from the climate. Then racist people in those countries will want to send the climate refugees back like they are not worthy of a happy and healthy environment.
Is there anything you have learnt from your experiences as an activist or anything else you'd like to share on the subject to those reading this?
I have learnt a lot of things through being a public activist; the most important lesson I have learnt is to be resilient. Not everyone is going to agree with you and your views, and this is what makes society so interesting. However, people are going to be hateful towards you, they are going to be mean, rude and degrading. But you need to know that you have so much support and that is all that matters. It's been very hard to deal with hate, but I've learnt that hate is just hate. You can choose to either let that hate consume you or you can choose to focus on the move you get instead.
That’s a really interesting note to leave it on, to learn how you overcome backlash from reactionaries and actors in power in opposition to you. That is something activists of all ages or walks of life can find difficult and sounds like you have a good handle on. It was great to get your perspectives on these matters and I look forward to seeing you in London on Tuesday.
Join the ‘Together Against Trump - stop the state visit’ from 11am on Tuesday 4th June
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