Greta Thunberg believes the world has reached a point where we're tired of staying silent about injustices. The 17-year-old climate change activist spoke with the BBC on Saturday about the recent Black Lives Matter protests that have put a spotlight on racial inequality and police brutality against Black citizens in countries all around the globe. The protests, sparked by the deaths of victims such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police, set off a wildfire that enabled folks to "find their voice" and "understand that they can actually have an impact," she said in the interview.
"It feels like we have passed some kind of social tipping point where people are starting to realize that we cannot keep looking away from these things," Thunberg told the BBC. "We cannot keep sweeping these things under the carpet, these injustices."
As the BBC previously noted, the George Floyd demonstrations brought out many first-time protesters who, after watching the video of his death, felt driven to express their disgust at the officers' cruelty. The BBC observed that the protests appeared more racially diverse than previous marches, more widespread among all U.S. states, and also included participants from rural and predominantly white towns. A poll by ABC found that nearly 75 percent of Americans currently believe law enforcement agents are racially biased against Black residents. Police forces have responded to the protests with astounding brutality — including an incident on Sunday where witnesses in Columbus, Ohio, claim police pepper sprayed a double-amputee and then took his prosthetic legs.
Thunberg also remarked on the racial inequality she witnessed during her visit to the U.S. last year. She said she met members of poor, non-white and Indigenous communities as she traveled across the country to meet with other youth activist groups. "It was very shocking to hear people [say] that they can't afford to put food on the table," she said.
While Thunberg is known as a climate change activist, there are many similarities between defunding the police and addressing the climate emergency. Black communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and police brutality, defunding the police can free up funds for action against climate change, and protestors from both groups have come together to pool their strength to demand better from politicians in power.
"The level of knowledge and understanding, even among people in power, is very, very low. Much lower than you would think," Thunberg told the BBC. But, despite her cynicism, the persistent actions of the protestors give her hope that people are understanding that "we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long — whether it is equality, justice, or sustainability."
"Humanity has not yet failed," she said.