My name is Zein Nakhoda and I'm an alum of Swarthmore College, class of 2012. I'm a mixed-race, white and Indian media maker from Dallas, Texas. In college I organized with Swarthmore Mountain Justice's fossil fuel divestment campaign and, with fellow alums, I now work with the Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice in Philadelphia. I pledge to organize for the long haul because we need long haul solutions to the ecological and economic crises we face.
Our campaign at Swarthmore emerged from visits to "coal country" in West Virginia. Long-time community activists took the time to organize us - they invited us into their homes, taught us about the poison in their water, and showed us the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining. They shared stories of coal industry tactics of intimidation, abuse, and neglect. And they challenged us to take what we saw and wage struggle at home.
It became clear that climate change is not a technical or regulatory problem, but a call to struggle. A struggle between those that profit from extraction, pollution, and inequity and those that bear the burden of ecological collapse. It also became clear that the same economic and cultural system fueling climate change was fueling Islamophobia in my family, the loss of my cultural heritage, and uncertainty for my and my family's future.
After graduating, I'm organizing for the long haul. Because it's how I honor my family and my past. Because it feeds me, keeps me whole, and lets me live with integrity. Because I have so much to learn and many inspiring people to meet. Because we're building the world we want to live in. Because I believe we're collectively more powerful than the fossil fuel industry. Because the social justice solutions we need take time, take care, take roots, take long-term love.
And I refuse to donate to my college until it divests from the fossil fuel industry.
Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice, Philadelphia
Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network, People of Color Caucus
Swarthmore College '12