A left-wing youth climate activist group is being accused of racism and tokenization by some of its minority members.
The Sunrise Movement made a name for itself after the group protested against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2018. But while they ostensibly supported diversity in the climate change movement, some members said behind the scenes they were ignoring and tokenizing them.
Buzzfeed News said it obtained internal letters and memos signed by at least 100 activists who accused the group of mismanagement and a lack of diversity.
One black member of the group aired his grievances on Twitter after being fired. He accused them of taking millions of dollars to grow the leadership while steering away from their revolutionary climate goals.
Another black staffer spoke to Buzzfeed anonymously to avoid retaliation.
“If movements don’t get it together, and this is including but not limited to Sunrise, 2022 is going to be a bloodbath and 2024 is going to be even worse,” the staffer said.
Another member complained that they were welcoming “young, white, college-educated people,” while ignoring working class people and people of color.
A nonbinary Indigenous activist named Big Wind said that the group was using them as a “token Native” on events, so he quit in 2019.
“I personally do not feel comfortable working with an organization when tokenization is a thing,” said Big Wind.
The frustration led to the organization of a BIPOC, or Black, Indigenous and People of Color, Caucus, and later a Black Caucus Sunrise Caucus to issue scathing rebukes of the organization.
The Sunrise organization released a statement to Buzzfeed about the accusations and claims.
“From our very founding, Sunrise has deeply believed that we are all imperfect, and that it’s incumbent on every organization to respond to feedback thoughtfully in an effort to grow,” the group said.
“While it’s true that individual leaders, both staff and volunteers, chose to leave Sunrise over the past year,” the statement continued, “the data we have show that the level of Black participation in our movement has remained steady for at least the past 18 months.”
Here’s more about the Sunrise Movement protests:
Climate protest at Pelosi’s office spurs arrests www.youtube.com