Youth Leader Arielle Klagsbrun Asks, “Which Side Are You On?”

At Bioneers, we believe in supporting our future leaders. #BioneersYouth speaker Arielle Klagsbrun is already making a difference in her community. 

Klagsburn is an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and Rising Tide North America. She was a leader of the “Take Back Saint Louis” campaign to remove tax incentives to corporations profiting from climate change. She is also a 2013 recipient of the Brower Youth Award for a campaign to confront Peabody Coal, the world’s largest private-sector coal corporation headquartered in St. Louis.

Originally slated to speak at the 2014 Bioneers conference about youth leadership in the climate movement, she decided to change her focus last-minute in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. “The resistance of African-American young people in Saint Louis has sparked a nation-wide movement, because in reality, Ferguson is everywhere.”

“Which side are you on?” Arielle says. “As people who care about sustained life on this planet, we must also care about sustained life right now on this planet. Just like in fighting the fossil fuel industry, the sides are clear. Either you are actively fighting white supremacy or you’re upholding the status quo that results in the killing of black and brown lives.”

She continued with a potent reading of the letter, An American Horror Story — Open Letter from Ferguson Protestors and Allies:

We will no longer allow you to escape this story and pretend that the epidemic of black lives dying by white hands is merely a figment of an active Black imagination. You must come face to face with the horror that we live daily. You must come to know and profess the truth of this story, and be determined to end it.

We are not concerned if this inconveniences you. Dead children are more than an inconvenience.

We are not concerned if this disturbs your comfort. Freedom outweighs that privilege.

We are not concerned if this upsets order. Your calm is built on our terror.

We are not concerned if this disrupts normalcy. We will disrupt life until we can live.

Do you also believe in the power of youth to positively change the world? Please help us bring more young leaders than ever to the 2015 Bioneers Conference—your contribution makes a difference!

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